Last year, there were more than 1.5 billion visits to food and recipe websites, but despite much-professed “flavor and culinary trends,” the 10 most popular search words included – in descending order—cookies, chicken, chili, slow cooker, pork chops, salmon, meatloaf, banana bread, ground beef and pasta salad.
Perhaps, this year, we’ll see a shift in a healthier direction. . .
In the meantime, I’ve done some research, and several food trends seem apparent for the New Year. Some are driven by health, others by sheer decadence.
Here are my projections:
Eat for What Ails You:
Health issues are relatively commonplace within U.S. households. Nearly 52 million households have a member afflicted with muscle or joint pain; 51 million have a member with high cholesterol; 50 million have a member with high blood pressure, 23 million have a member with diabetes, and 17 million households have a member with osteoporosis. “Prescriptive eating” actually has the potential to go from a trend to a way of life.
That’s another way of saying consumers, challenged by high food prices, will focus on simple recipes using less expensive cuts of meats, along with more beans, grains and produce, which may or not be local or seasonal.
Bite into a sandwich of chipotle pork chop with burnt sugar glaze and tarragon mayonnaise and your taste buds will announce that these flavors came from a global tastemaker. This is what’s emerging: A multiethnic, multisensory dining experience where flavors clash on purpose.
It’s the new hamburger.
Look for sandwiches made with bread alternatives like arepas, flattened tostones, bao, waffles and rice cakes.
Bulgogi, kimchee and bibimbap have taken over Wednesday food sections, which means that shelter magazines will start running simplified recipes in 2012.
The Year of the Potato:
Their time has come. Watch for French fry menus that let you choose the cut, crispness and dipping sauce; there will be make-your-own mashers with mix-ins, and custom-cut chips with a la carte dips to order.
Use Your Noodle:
Noodles have been around since the beginning of time, but innovative and exciting restaurants are highlighting this ancient art with hand-pulled noodles.
RIP Comfort Food:
When the recession hit, Americans gravitated to roast chicken, meat loaf and mac and cheese. Now bored by gastro-nostalgia, Americans are demanding new taste thrills and culinary invention. Look for traditional comfort food like mac and cheese to be re-worked with ingredients such as pork rillettes. (And, no, pork is not going anywhere this year.)
Beer Gardens Boom:
This trend will sweep the country, especially in restaurants and breweries with unused backyards, oversized parking lots or available rooftops. Bottoms up!