Uh, move over cumin and Thai basil, wattleseed wait in line, there’s a trendier new spice in town: wild fennel pollen. This is pollen, carefully collected by hand from wild fennel, a painstaking process that makes WFP the third costliest spice, after saffron and cardamom. Well worth it, it seems, since you can use this pollen to add delightfully distinctive flavor to everything, from meats and fish, pizza to veggies to desserts—it goes everywhere, and plays nice with other herbs and spices.
Question is, how did it get so…hot (it’s not actually hot, described instead as intense, sweet, indescribable, with notes of licorice, curry, honey, and, of course, fennel)? Quietly used in Italy for some time, wild fennel pollen is suddenly blowing up elsewhere due to lots of hype! Superchef Mario Batali bigs it up big time. Forbes named it one of its Top 10 Food Trends of 2011 (along with mead, artisanal honey, Brussels sprouts, and…cake pops). A writer for Saveur claimed, “If angels sprinkled a spice from their wings, this would be it.” Here at MR, we simply say, it’s wild.