McCormick's Turmeric-Spiced Chicken with Tomato Avocado Salsa.

Spice company McCormick’s  2010 Flavour Forecast is a fun look at what  (according to one press release under their banner) “sensory analysts, chefs, trend experts, food technologists . . . cookbook authors and TV food personalities”  think might be flavourings that will catch fire with cooks everywhere (and get them to buy spices, of course). I love the idea of roasted ginger and rhubarb but am not so crazy about caraway and bitter greens (love the latter, generally avoid the former). I also can’t wait for the garden tomatoes to come on stream to try the turmeric-tomato combo.

Just for fun, I’ve tracked down their 2009 predictions, which follow the 2010 list below. Shows that predicting the future is a difficult game at the best of times. Still, it’s always fun, and often inspiring, to find out what the experts think.

Here’s  the 2010 list and their explanation for each combination. Do any appeal to you? Then check out their recipes for each combo.

Roasted Ginger and Rhubarb
Exciting layers of spicy and sour. The combination of roasted ginger and rhubarb shakes up traditional barbecue sauces or chunky chutneys for roasted meats. Their tangy punch also accents grilled fish preparations and updated takes on favourite desserts.

Thai Basil and Watermelon
A sweet, refreshing balance. A watermelon margarita spiked with Thai basil is a refreshing way to start a meal. Savour a cucumber, watermelon and Thai basil gazpacho or fresh salad, accented by salty feta cheese.

Caraway and Bitter Green
North meets South for a distinctive peppery bite. Discover this combination in the company of grains or beans, in soups and stews, or in a brisket with caraway and horseradish. A quick sauté of just-wilted greens with garlic and olive oil makes a simple and satisfying side dish. Or, a peach and caraway-spiked dressing is a perfect match for a salad of grilled radicchio and endive.

Bay Leaves and Preserved Lemons
Slowly coaxed flavour worth the wait. Perfect in a braised tagine or simple roast chicken, this duo is also beautiful with seafood, pasta and grains. Equally appealing in sweet applications, bay leaves are a subtle complement to preserved lemon gelato or rice pudding.

Almonds and Ale
A congenial and cozy pair. Blurring the lines between barroom and kitchen, the twosome works well together in any course — from cocktails and salads to meat entrées and desserts. Chef-inspired interpretations include a gutsy marinade for pork and chicken, a lush twist for baked apples and even a grown-up almond-ale milkshake.

Turmeric and Vine-Ripened Tomatoes
A colourful, healthful blend that’s always in season. Incorporate this functional pairing in a turmeric-spiced grilled chicken topped with Indian-style tomato salsa, or make turmeric mayonnaise for a memorable BLT. Turmeric-tomato sauce adds a vibrant, nourishing layer on globally inspired flatbreads.

Pumpkin Spice and Coconut Milk
Comfortably exotic. Chefs and home cooks like the duo’s broad possibilities in a range of soups, sauces and sweets. On the grill, they’re a full-bodied marinade for a Caribbean twist on chicken. For dessert, they offer a new take on mousse, cheesecake or bread pudding.

Roasted Cumin and Chickpeas
A warm and earthy Mediterranean duet. Beyond playing an indispensible role in hummus and Indian curries, this globetrotting duo reinvents everything from French cassoulet to all-American pork and beans. Vegetarian dishes like a warm chickpea salad with roasted cumin vinaigrette or a cumin-spiked lentil and chickpea soup are a deeply satisfying main course.

Creole Mustard and Shellfish
Vibrant spirit of the Gulf Coast. Swirling a bit of Creole mustard into batter for fried shellfish adds a welcome kick. Simply mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, honey and a few drops of hot sauce, a Creole mustard dressing is a knockout in a southern style ceviche. It also adds a zesty twist to reinterpretations of southern staples like fried green tomatoes.

Chives and Fish Sauce
Savory fusion of French and Asian cuisines. Noodle bowls and marinades or dipping sauces for meat skewers are a natural choice to marry fish sauce and a liberal helping of chives. The pair also put a dynamic spin on red wine vinaigrette for fresh vegetable salads or drizzled on simply steamed fish.

2009 FORECAST

I’m not sure anyone was blown away by the first two, but I’ve tried the rosemary/fruit combo and it’s fabulous. Here’s what else the spice company predicted would catch on in 2009. Did any of these inspire you to great cooking heights last year?

1. Toasted Sesame and Root Beer: An iconic soda is rediscovered for its versatility as a cooking ingredient, paired with the bold nuttiness of toasted sesame seed.

2. Cayenne and Tart Cherry: The flavours of two superfoods – the heat of cayenne and sweet-sour tang of tart cherry – pack a multi-layered punch.

3. Tarragon and Beetroot: This hip pair creates a sensory feast that is anything other than predictable or restrained.

4. Peppercorn Mélange and Sake: Japan’s notable rice wine finds a new partner in the quintessentially French unison of multicolored peppercorns.

5. Chinese Five Spice and Artisan-cured Pork: Hand crafted artistry merges with a harmonious Asian blend to create an innovative taste sensation.

6. Dill and Avocado Oil: Mild avocado oil finds an elegant partner in clean, minty dill – reflecting the healthy goodness that comes from pure, natural ingredients.

7. Rosemary and Fruit Preserves: Fresh-picked fruit flavors fuse with aromatic rosemary for a progressive interpretation of sweet and savoury.

8. Garam Masala and Pepitas: A beautifully matched global combination of an intoxicating spice blend from India and a prized seed popular in Latin America.

9. Mint and Quinoa: Nutritious, whole-grain quinoa is taken to new heights when paired with the exhilarating, cool taste of mint.

10. Smoked Paprika and Agave Nectar: Smoky sweetness from the purity of nature celebrates a union of Spanish and Mexican ingredients.