Monday, January 7, 2013

2013 Food Trends - Throwing My Spoon into the Mixing Bowl

Well, as John Lennon sang, "another year over and a new one just begun."

The former inevitably leads to "best of" lists, a practice I engage in myself by offering some of my favorite food memories of the past twelve months. The latter brings predictions for the coming year.

Numerous sources have offered ideas for food trends in 2013: Bon Appetit, Food Network, the Sterling Rice Group, ABC News, Cooking Light, The Daily Mail, The New York Times, and Kitchen Daily among them.

One suggestion is that popcorn will be all the rage - as a snack, with many different flavorings, and even as an ingredient. Although I personally think that popcorn is merely buttery, salty styrofoam, enough entities have proclaimed its coming resurgence that I suppose I'll watch as that trend takes shape.

Korean hot sauces are expected to be enormously popular. KIMKIM sauce won gold for "Outstanding Cooking Sauce or Flavor Enhancer" at the NASFT's (National Association for the Specialty Food Trade) sofi awards this past summer. I know several people who are completely enthralled by it.

Pickled and fermented foods are also going to be "in," they say, and I know that these brined and vinegary foods have shown a huge uptake in popularity. Here in Ann Arbor, The Brinery is a much-loved company that's been winning fans at the forefront of the movement.

Tasting menus, too - a tidbit here, an enticement there, allowing you to try a variety of treats - seem to be very chic in coastal restaurants, particularly in New York City. As Pete Wells recently wrote in The New York Times: "Across the country, expensive tasting-menu-only restaurants are spreading like an epidemic. This year in New York, two such places were born ... while two other restaurants ... dropped their à la carte menus in favor of all-or-nothing tastings." Sure, in many cases it's a pretentious and costly way to get one measly nibble each of a number of dishes. But indecisive girl that I am, I love this concept that would allow me to try several items without having to make a full commitment to only one.

Chia seeds seem to be the latest health craze, having gone beyond merely growing "hair" on ceramic pets. According to another New York Times article, "chia, like fish, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, though of a different sort. It also has antioxidants, protein and fiber. Recognition of its nutritional value can be traced as far back as the Aztecs." They can be used ground or whole, stirred into foods, incorporated into puddings ... these little powerhouses are very flexible and adaptable.

I think these lists have missed some other potential trends, though. Here are a few that I believe have some merit and possibility:

Scandinavian food. In 2011, the Scandinavians swept the Bocuse d'Or [boh-KOOS DOHR], one of the premier international cooking competitions: first place went to Denmark, second place to Sweden, and third to Norway. The biannual event will take place again on January 29th and 30th, and the Scandinavians must be coming in as the favorites. Beyond this, Copenhagen's Noma was named Best Restaurant in the World once again in 2012, for the third consecutive year. In addition to that, Aamanns-Copenhagen - a Danish restaurant serving innovative versions of traditional sandwiches and infused aquavits - just opened in New York; Denmark’s crown prince and princess came for the ribbon cutting last year, when construction began. And, of course, IKEA is a force that's been bringing lingonberry jam and elderflower syrup to the masses, to enjoy once they've polished off their plates of Swedish meatballs. The New York Times (my beloved fix, if you couldn't tell!) is the only one that picked up on this, noting it very briefly. But I've been talking about it for awhile, and brought it up on Facebook just after Christmas - I'd like to take credit where it's due!

Brazilian food and the Paleo Diet. Brazil has been poised to join the proverbial world stage for awhile now; its economy is thriving, and it is full of natural resources and beautiful scenery. Yes, there is also extreme poverty and continued corruption; I don't deny, or excuse, that. But the country is on the brink of becoming a star player. In 2014, Brazil will host the World Cup; in 2016, it will welcome athletes to the Summer Olympics. And if the Paleo Diet is all the rage right now, Brazilian eating habits are ideal for those jumping on the bandwagon. The Paleo Diet features items that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have eaten: "fresh meats ... fish, seafood, fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and healthful oils (olive, coconut, avocado, macadamia, walnut and flaxseed). Dairy products, cereal grains, legumes, refined sugars and processed foods were not part of our ancestral menu." In nearly every way - with the exception of enormously popular beans and rice, and the country's famous pao de queijo [POW deh KAY-ee-zhoh (cheese bread) - this describes Brazilian cuisine, which is particularly noted for its beef.

Locavore expansion. I think the locavore movement - focusing upon eating seasonal, locally-grown produce - is quickly expanding to encompass more eating of locally-made products, as well. People seem to be supporting local bakers, local picklers, local cheese makers ... their friends, family, and neighbors who have small shops and small businesses, but big dreams and bigger flavors. For all the fuss about "big box" stores seeming to invade every community, there seems to be a new-found resurgence in small-batch producers, in wanting to support the folks next door and respecting their crafts and expertise. Ann Arbor welcomed several new farmers' markets this year, which featured beautiful produce and a wide variety of handmade/homemade treats. While it used to be so easy to go to a behemoth grocery store and buy everything in one spot, it seems more and more that people are learning about, buying, and - especially - eating locally-made products that might even require a few extra stops while out running errands.

Charcuterie. Charcuterie - smoking, salting, curing, and otherwise preparing specialty meats (sausages, hams, etc.) - has been making a resurgence at restaurants, but it is also being practiced at home. I know of several folks in their 20s who experiment with these beautiful, savory treats as a hobby, as a passion; and if the cool kids half my age are doing it, it must be fashionable! A labor of love, charcuterie has also inspired the charming folks at Ann Arbor's Biercamp to open a shop devoted to wonderful handmade sausages, bacons, and jerkies. Award-winning Detroit-area chef Brian Polcyn and his collaborator, Michael Ruhlman, have written a second definitive book about this culinary art form - Salumi: The Art of Italian Dry Curing - to follow Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. As Sylvia Rector of The Detroit Free Press wrote not too long ago: "Polcyn's first book isn't the only reason hundreds of American chefs are now making and serving delicious cured meats and scores of new companies have sprung up to produce hand-crafted sausages and cured meats. But he surely helped light the fire." And that fire seems to be burning even more brightly now, as I believe the trend will grow and flourish. In fact, just last week I found out that Chef Steven Grostick, who is noted for butchery and charcuterie, will very soon be working at one of my favorite gourmet shops, The Produce Station.

So, what trends do you see where you live? Which ones do you think are overdone or passé? Which foods are you tired of? And what do you wish others would pick up on and turn into a trend that we can all catch on to?

(With thanks to Andrew Gorsuch of The Produce Station for the photo of KIMKIM sauce.)


Jenn said...

I've never been one to follow food trends.. I'm usually a year or two behind in most cases! lol But I'm loving that the Korean hot sauce is coming on to the scene.... I've read about it and found recipes that use it, but still haven't been able to find any yet!

Cranberry Morning said...

Yeah, I think we all need to work at being locavores. My daughter is on the Paleo diet and all her allergy symptoms disappeared and she was able to go off all her prescription allergy drugs. Great, informative post, Mary. I guess Scandinavian cuisine is different in the high end restaurants than in the typical Scandinavian Wisconsin home. Here, it's typically bland and boring. :-)I told a friend yesterday that we need to be able to cook outdoors on the shore of the North Sea. That might help. :-)

Candace said...

Great post, Mary! My father-in-law has suggested that we try Scandinavian food for our next cooking party....Danish food, specifically. It will definitely be something new for me.

Chris said...

The one food trend I see for 2013 is actually not a trend but a clash of the continuing trends with the economic reality in the US. Budgets are going to crimp the more costly ingredient trends but frugal foodies are going to find a balance.

Ghosts of Postings Past and Present

Looking for Something ...?