Puebla hot pot
Steeping ancho chile, smoked paprika and spices in chicken stock gives the puebla hot pot a smoky, savory taste.
 

American spice

Countries in North America and South America offer distinctive spicy flavors, too. McCormick & Co. mentioned puebla hot pot in its forecast. Steeping ancho chile, smoked paprika and spices in chicken stock gives the central Mexican-inspired hot pot a smoky, savory taste. It may be used to cook chicken or pork and finished with corn, avocado crème and garnishes.

Herbs like cilantro, huacatay and epazote indicate Peruvian flavors, said Ms. Iler. Aji Amarillo is a specialty pepper from Peru.

“Peruvian cuisine incorporates spices that consumers already know and use, but (they are) presented in new combinations,” Ms. Iler said. “Examples include cumin, oregano, annatto, citrus, black pepper and sweet brown spices. Peruvian spices can be used on snacks, in soups, stews and dips.”

Sweet Spanish pepper

Although not as hot, peppers from Europe have a history.

Piquillio peppers
The piquillo pepper often is served as a tapa, stuffed with cheese, meat or seafood.
 
“There is a long history of paprika coming from this region, especially Hungarian and Spanish paprika,” Ms. Iler said. “Foods from this region are generally milder in their heat profiles. So peppers are on the mild end of the spectrum, lending a slight smoky and subtle sweetness to the food they are added to. Another aspect that influences the peppers grown in this region is the shorter growing season.”

The piquillo pepper from the Navarra region of northern Spain is a roasted red pepper that is sweet with little or no heat impact. The roasting lends a subtle smokiness to the sweetness of the pepper, Ms. Iler said. The pepper often is served as a tapa, stuffed with cheese, meat or seafood. It also may be diced and used in soups.

The espelette pepper originated in the Basque region of France. It is available in dry, ground form, much like paprika.

Espelette peppers
The espelette lends a smoky and slightly fruity note to foods with minimal heat impact.
 

“As versatile as ground paprika, it lends a smoky and slightly fruity, almost citrus note to foods with minimal heat impact,” Ms. Iler said.

Spicy still sells, though. The Kalsec report “Spicing Up the Food Industry: Hot and Spicy Trends and Insight” found 90% of U.S. consumers and 80% of European consumers enjoy hot and spicy foods.

“People are demanding more complex tastes with more subtle flavor differences,” the report said. “From the rise of the sriracha as a condiment, to finding the spiciest pepper to replace the ghost pepper, consumers now look and expect more detail within their menus and products than a simple mild, medium or hot heat level. This creates opportunities for innovators to expand product lines with specialty items highlighting specific flavors and ingredients. Not only is it important to offer heat, but to pair the heat with other flavors for an overall different taste experience.”