Hot Trends in Food!
Food trends come and go and some come back again, just as fashion trends do (witness Fashion Week in New York this week where the 80s are on parade again). I’m no expert on either, but I have noticed several new trendy ingredients and concepts…
In no particular order:
-Celeriac, or celery root. I was confused on this one for a long time, and I’ll admit it – I thought it was actually a part of the more familiar vegetable, but it is an entirely different, though related, vegetable. I find its taste milder and more pleasant than celery, but sweeter and more flavorful than a potato. It’s a gnarly looking beast of a vegetable – it looks sort of like a large radish before it is peeled and cooked. You may see it sneaking up on menus, mashed on its own or mashed with potatoes or other root vegetables like turnips. It can also be used in soups. I first tried it mashed sans other veggies at an upscale restaurant in western Massachusetts in early 2008, and didn’t see it again (or think about it) for months. More recently, I’ve seen celeriac/celery root on other restaurant menus, on a recent Food Network challenge on TV, and in several recipes in a recent issue of the Food Network magazine (clearly, I keep the channel in business!) I like celeriac and look forward to seeing it more widely avaialble in stores so I can try cooking them, although their barky exterior is a little off-putting and daunting!
-Hot drinks – and I mean this literally. I love spice, particularly in the cuisines I expect it from like Indian or Asian cuisines. I’m not sure how I feel about pepper and chili and jalapeno flavors in my cocktails, though – it seems counterintuitive, like using alcohol to try to put out a fire. I haven’t tried very many of these types of drinks, though, so my verdict is still out on this one. I can sort of see how spice might complement a margarita…I guess I’m just afraid that the alcohol will make the heat linger longer than I want. I plan to get more daring with these types of drinks, though.
-While I’m on the topic of cocktails, adding mild teas to mixed drinks seems to be another trend – green tea, even more exotic teas like hibiscus tea. I like tea once in awhile, but not in my cocktails…seems too virtuous, I guess, to have green tea in my cocktails.
-Molten chocolate cakes. This one may be on its way out as I see fewer of these listed on high-end restaurant menus, and more and more on chain restaurant menus. I like them, I can’t complain about chocolate oozing out of the middle of my cake, but it is a little predictable. I recently tried something called Chocolate Pate at Moonstone’s in Chelmsford, MA, and I’d like to see this become a trend – mmmmm.
-Pomegranate is another trend – I’ve had pomegranate reductions on duck, pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top of food, and pomegranate flavored cocktails (these are sweet enough not to seem too healty or virtuous). I think pomegranates will stick around as long as people keep talking about what a “super food” it is (it is believed to help prevent myriad problems from Alzheimers’ Disease to cancers). Acai berries (also high in antioxidants) seem to be the new “super food” on the rise and are being used in some of the same types of applications. I haven’t had a chance to try many foods/drinks with acai yet.
-Cured meats, otherwise known as salumi (that’s not a typo – I’ve recently learned that salami is a type of salumi, though). I’ve seen these promoted as a new trend, but I’m not sure I’m buying them as a trend. I think cured meats like prosciutto and pancetta are becoming more widely available and people love smoked meats – some of these meats are basically gourmet bacon – and smoking familiar meats like turkey certainly adds new, complex flavors. But I think salumi is only going to increase in popularity as it finds its way to supermarkets everywhere, and I don’t see these foods going away…so I’m not sure it’s truly a trend. My husband and I hope to visit Seattle over the next year, and I would like to visit the Salumi store, owned by Mario Batali’s dad, Armandino Batali…he’s probably most responsible for introducing Americans to the term salumi.
-Comfort foods – this is a whole entry onto itself – so, stay tuned and enjoy lots of trendy foods!