We are a nation of immigrants, creating a deliciously diverse menu of flavors and textures that can be combined in nearly limitless ways to form a sumptuous array of culinary delights to make Bacchus green with envy.
And then there’s the McRib. But, seriously, folks. It’s all a part of a collective gastronomic heritage that is uniquely American.
That brings to mind a story. There was a little girl. We’ll call her Lakshmi. She came to the US from a magical island that was once called Ceylon, famous for its pearls. Her father told her that it was important to try American foods, so he prepared french toast, following instructions carefully until it came time for the toppings. Lakshmi and her family substituted ketchup and chilies, preferring a savory finish for the mildly sweet toast to the overwhelming sweetness of syrup, powdered sugar or fruit sauce.
The moral of the story? Take note of the buying power of the Sri Lankan-American audience? Not really. Add chilies and ketchup to the dipping choices for your french toast sticks? Now that’s getting closer.
There are probably as many flavor combinations and possibilities as there are people on the planet. The tastes of the American consumer are becoming more varied, more adventurous, more sophisticated, more discerning and more individualistic all the time.
This is happening for three reasons: First, people are coming here from other countries. Second, Americans are increasingly interested in other cultures. Third, many of us just simply like a little variety and “spice” in our lives, and food is a good vehicle for it.
The wonderfully elegant thing about this tendency is that you can address consumers across many demographic boundaries (income, race, age) with many of the same flavor profiles.
Finding a place for tamarind on your menu or in your product, for instance, might satisfy the palates of Latin Americans and people of Indian descent, while firing up the waiting taste buds of consumers who may never have been exposed to the flavor.
This is a great instance of your creativity converging with consumer tastes. Go have fun and take advantage of it.