Happy New Year! Those three little words bring us the ubiquitous lists of predictions, projections, expectations, and all other forms of forecasting.

As the Spice Sherpa spice sleuth I reviewed the top 2010 lists for ingredients, flavors, chef and food trends for 2010 in search of what we can expect from spices this year. Here’s what I found.

#1) Cardamom

Mintel, a global marketing trend research company, posted a report on what to expect for 2010 flavor trends. Cardamom topped their list. No surprise. This unique, flavorful, warm spice is a Spice Sherpa favorite. Look for cardamom to leave its ethnic reputation and start making appearances in chocolate (our favorite is Vosges’ line of exotic chocolate bars), cookies and other tasties.  Think of cardamom as the new cinnamon.

Incidentally, I found the Mintel report referenced on about four other food articles.

#2) Curry

When most people say curry they’re referring to curry powder, the spice blend, not the curry leaf spice. Watch for a wide array of curries ranging from raging dragon hot to a delicate enchantment of your palate.  Curry was listed by Cooking with Denay’s Top 10 Food Trends.

#3) Latin Spices

Paprika, ancho chile, jerk seasoning–Latin flavors are found in those sexy countries that hold a permanent spell on most of us (think Spain and the Caribbean).  Here’s a guide to Latin produce and spices. Latin spices are another Mintel prediction. To bring proof to the home kitchen I recently made a Portugese pasta sauce featuring 2 tablespoons of paprika.

#4) Real Food

While not an individual spice or spice blend the real food category has great implications for our eating habits. Michael Pollan fans celebrate! Unidentifiable, processed, chemical concoctions are being ousted by people who want to eat stuff that’s actually recognized by your body. Spices are a necessary part of this category. Look for shorter and pure ingredient labels in the supermarket aisles. Want an example? Artificial vanilla extract is made from wood mill waste. Yes, you read that correctly. True vanilla is a bean that’s been steeped in alcohol (I use vodka).

This item came from Chef’s Forecast 2010 Food Trends from Hispanic Business. It was also listed as Fresh = Local = Hand-Made = Better = Safer by the group who brings you #5.

#5) Eating In

International Restaurant consultants Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Co. predicted 13 dining and restaurant trends for 2010. Eating in, a suprising entry given it’s the antonym of eating out, made the list. Eating in is natural outgrowth of real food and the recession. Wondering about the spice relation? Spices are how you flavor your food at home. Excuse-moi monsieur et madame? Your table is waiting…right there…in your dining room.

*Honorable Mention: Bacon

Bacon as bacon or under the category of pork popped up on several lists. Vosges popularized it by adding it to their chocolate bars and I’ve seen other variations on the theme (chocolate covered bacon, bacon soup, etc.). Bacon is cured and spices are an integral part of the process.

*Another Honorable Mention: Salt

Yes, this is a continuation of 2009 but watch for salt’s popularity to march upward. It’s already been a proven to turn chocolate into a sultry experience. Salt is the center of health controversy. Should you or shouldn’t you?