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Southwest Seasoning

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Smoked Barbecue Brisket

Throughout the haul of cooking, many different regions have laid claim to different flavor profiles and spices with each unique flavor shaping that region. We see in the Northwest, an immense fishing culture throughout Washington and Oregon, the Midwest with its subtle flavors and comfort food, and the South with its special style of cooking and passion for flavor. In different enclaves throughout the East, they all claim to have mastered Italian cuisine. However, one region that many forget about, is the Southwest. Yet, this forgotten region encapsulates expansive and unique flavor profiles. 

When talking about flavor, that covers a lot of different terms, so it’s always important to be clear. When talking about flavor, it’s not just about specific dishes or ingredients, or even spices for that matter. It is about the ability to use all three cohesively, which is what makes a great flavor profile. One such region that is forgotten is the Southwest. Many spices are used on rubs for different types of meat in this region; things like the spicy ancho chili powder come to mind, along with ground cumin, coriander, and paprika. All of which add some extra zing and pep to Southwest cooking here in the United States.    

Starting in New Mexico, these spices are translated into dishes that speak volumes of what Southwest cuisine has tried to manifest. Things like enchiladas which incorporate a spicy flavor profile, with cheese and moist chicken, intrigue many palettes. It should be noted that Southwest flavor in New Mexico is especially influenced by Mexico itself. Pulling other dishes like tamales and burritos adds to the flavor profile of this state in the Southwest region.

If we move over a couple of states to California, a different take using some of the spices mentioned is presented. With seafood being widely available due to the coast, dishes such as surf and turf are popular with fresh catches coming in every day. The fish caught have the ability to be used with a variety of spices and dishes, making California’s Southwest cuisine unique, and adding another refreshing level to this flavor pyramid. Even more regionality is added to this when we talk about California because of the sheer size of the sunshine state as well. Sacramento uses different flavors than San Diego, pulling a unique contrast in regionality, despite all California cities being under the umbrella of Southwest cuisine.    

Finally, Arizona rounds out our Southwest flavors with its bold and poignant spices. Some may argue that Arizona is similar to New Mexico in some of its Southwest flavors. However, it has a unique flare, that is not just provided in its landscape, but in its spices. A more potent attack of turmeric rounds out dishes like Chimichangas and fry bread. Arizona also provides a slate of brisket and other smoked meats, all with a splash of spice that provides a refreshing kick. To round out the cuisine of Arizona, it would be impossible to mention Menudo — traditional bean soup. This wide array of dishes finalizes the diverse range of dishes with Southwest spice.  

From seafood to barbeque, it’s important to try food, expand your palette, and appreciate the regionality of cooking. The Southwest is no different, with a diverse range of flavors that are always worth trying. Make sure to give this delicious flavor profile a go!

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About the Contributor
Julian Zolenski, Staff Writer
Julian Zolenski is a Senior at Forest Hills Eastern. This is his second year being on the Hawk Herald Staff. Julian enjoys a number of different things about his busy life including working as a line cook, playing with his dog, and hanging out with his friends. Right now Julian has a dream of being a Sports Commentator. He intends to accomplish this goal by majoring in Broadcast Journalism in his college future. Julian knows this is a lofty goal, but he will not let anything stop him from accomplishing it.   
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