Sour may be the new hot and spicy

 MIxed pickles

Apparently, sour is the new spicy- i.e. the latest taste craze sweeping the U.S. (and other parts of the world). Recently we found two sources for this perception.  

 In Michael Pollan’s new book, Cooked, he only presents four recipes backing up his intense discussions of cooking with fire (grilling), water (braising), air (bread), and dirt (fermentation). In the latter section, among other adventures, he travels to Korea to learn how to make kimchi and after visiting a fermentation event, gives an easy recipe for “authentic” pickles – i.e. fermented rather than pickled in vinegar.

And in a recent article from SlateMore Sour to You, the online magazine comments that chefs, the Food Network, and other food experts are:

perceiving a growing taste for sourness…Think of thick, sour Greek yogurt, which has expanded from a meager 1 percent market share in 2007 to take over more than one-third of the entire yogurt market this year. And salt and vinegar chips, which used to seem like the kind of thing your weird uncle ate, have also gained a foothold in the American market. Now there’s enough demand for sour snacks to inspire a whole array of competing mass market pickle-flavored chips from giants like Lay’s and Pringles, which markets its tubes of XTRA Screamin’ Dill Pickle chips with a dare: ‘Brave one bite and you’ll be hooked on the aggressive taste that won’t quit.'”

Why? Besides being perceived as healthier than sugar-laden foods, this taste comes from increased familiarity with international foods (much the same factors that drove the craze for spiciness):

Both sour and spicy flavors have ridden to popularity on a wave of new international cuisines that reflect the nation’s growing diversity. Sour flavors have gained acclaim as more Asian cuisines – particularly Thai food – have expanded their reach. Thai food purists may grouse, correctly, that the cuisine has been debased as it has spread. But even an inauthentic Thai menu is bound to offer sour dipping sauces and spicy soups punched up with lime juice.”

So next time you reach for a cookie, ask yourself “Wouldn’t I rather have a pickle?”

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One Comment

  • sir_ken_g  on  July 20, 2013

    Or go with SE Asian, Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet

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