HOLA CHUMS. It’s the end of the year which means a few things. You’re gonna get hench, get new clothes, gonna wash that man right outta your hair (unless you married him in 2017 in which case he’s probably lovely), you’re gonna eat better, smarter, harder, faster etc etc.
BUT WAIT, WHAT’S THIS?! Is it Lewishamble’s list of Food Trends which are probably bollacks? Like last year’s hit post? Or 2015’s post? AW MAN yeaaaaaaaah. Strap in folks, the futurists have been smoking some especially ridiculous shit this year. Of course, the below constitutes nothing more than my ill-considered and hangover-aided opinions aka don’t sue me please but also if you do I really want you to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that some of this stuff is more than nutritional woo-woo.
This year’s sources include Whole Foods, the Guardian (who appeared to rip off Whole Foods tbh), and the BBC Good Food team. I am picking a selection of trends rather than the whole lot. Why? Cos I can, bitches, and also I’ve picked those which make me laugh the most.
With the above said, I am super-interested in this trend, if only because I think it’s one of those potential proper GAME CHANGERS for meat substitutes. Like most, I went through a lil’ old veggie phase during the early 00s and honestly, it was the meat substitutes which prevented me from following it up. Spongy mince, watery little turds masquerading as chicken chunks and that grainy-yet-mushy texture were the absolute pits. The world of meat substitution has come a long way in the years since but I’ll pass it in the supermarket and give a little shudder as I recall the sight of the vegetarian mince for spaghetti I used to get at the uni canteen.
The news that boffins in California (where else?) were working on a meat substitute that not only had the teeth-chew of real meat but the juicy “heme” (from the Greek for blood) was something I was interested in if only because it sounded so damn difficult to do. I read up on the production of the Impossible Burger with more than a little interest and honestly I am really up for giving it a go in the fullness of time. Good for the planet and good for science, this trend hopefully will be a proper watershed for mainstream vegetarianism.
Lewishambles trendometer rating: 4/5 (I’d like to see this in the wild and think it has a real chance of moving mainstream)
The Fashionable Ferments
This was a sure-fire, nailed-on super trend for 2017. My view of it last year was somewhat underwhelmed ( see Food trends which should die in 2017). Haha, I totally bloody hated it! The fact it never caught fire in the way anticipated was less an endorsement of my excellent opinion and more to do with the fact that the British public are still a bit wary of food which looks and smells like it might be off. And paying through the nose for it will be a very hard sell indeed.
This year, the Formentors (see what I did there?) have a little more clout on their sides – the likes of Nadiya Begum have been sipping on Kombucha on Twitter and it’s possible to buy Kefir in Leon and Tesco. But fizzy food may yet prove a bridge too far for a British public still hard-wired for chips, and while I’m sure fashionable restaurants and even some bigger chains will dip their toes in the water, it’ll be time yet before your mum offers you some home-made kimchi with your Sunday roast.
Lewishambles trendometer rating: 3/5 (food elitists will tell you that everyone is doing it, but – spoiler! – they won’t be).
So, hipsters are coming for our brews, are they? Cue the alternate-reality/flashback squiggly screen effect…
Scene: the boardroom at Big Tea. The Board has just finished a call with The Enemy, Starbucks.
Mr Twinings: FUCK THAT DUDE. Fuck him. I’m tired of listening to his shit! Every year it’s all “hey guys how y’all doing with your little tea bags?” God, he has the nerve to claim he sells tea and it’s just this sugary SHITE.
Ms Lipton: Kenneth, calm yourself. You know it never does any good. We’re powerless against him. He has so much money we’ll nev-
Mr Twinings: OH YEAH?! OH YEAH, Linda?! We’ll never what, exactly? Never beat him? Fuck him. While we have China and India, we’ll NEVER BOW TO H-
Sir Whittard: He launched in China.
Mr Twinings: …. excuse me? He did what????
Sir Whittard: It’s really catching on. They love it. They’ll pay loads for it. Cosimo Lavazzo’s just loving it. He reckons they’ll be sipping a morning espresso in no time.
Mr Twining drums tabletop with fingers, turns red. He is about to explode.
Ms Lipton: Ken, please don’t… Jeff, say something. Kenneth, we still have the English.
Mr Twinings: [tears up Board notes, flings chair against wall] WE STILL HAVE THE ENGLISH?! Fuck the English! They’ve just brexited themselves into oblivion! They’ll end up eating off of sticks around the post-apocalyptic fires and they’ll STILL PAY $8 FOR A FRAPPUCCINO. All we have left is India! [points at a figure at the end of the table, jabbing furiously] I FUCKING TOLD YOU JEFF.
Earl Grey: [Sitting in big evil-looking egg chair, back to the Boardroom] Shut up Kenny.
Mr Twinings: WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?!
Earl Grey: [spinning round to face the board] I said shut up. We’ve planned for this.
A pause. The group shift uneasily in their chairs. Dave Yorkshire clears his throat.
Mr Yorkshire: Jeff, me and the lads at PG were talking about this. Ellie at Pukka is wondering the same. It’s just… everyone enjoys a cuppa. We can’t take the same route as Starbucks. It’s not right, Jeff. It’s not natural. Have you even seen the poor buggers at the Nescafé ranch recently? Nigel Nescafé is a wreck! His dream of ordinary middle-class neighbours shagging each other over a cup of instant is gone! The hipsters took everything!
Earl Grey: I know what I’m doing, David. We all knew it would come to this. Father Cappucino and the Starbucks lads have shown us the way. It’s time to make tea expensive and elitist. Everyone knows that Tea is more intellectual than coffee anyway. We have so many varieties, so much ritual. The hipsters are ready to go fucking mental for us. The day would come when we reached out and decided that we were ready to ruin the humble cuppa. We know what we need to do.
…. and scene.
So, BBC Good Food reckons that it’s time to make our tea fancy. Oh goody. I can’t wait to be patronised about the choice of all my fucking hot beverages in the future.
Lewishambles trendometer rating: 3/5 (probably it will happen but also it will be terrible).
I’m going to need to borrow a quote from the fine folks at Whole Foods here for a second:
Shoppers are buzzing about functional mushrooms, which are traditionally used to support wellness as an ingredient in dietary supplements… Bottled drinks, coffees, smoothies and teas are leading the way. The rich flavors also lend themselves to mushroom broths, while the earthy, creamy notes pair well with cocoa, chocolate or coffee flavors.
Okay. I have some questions, please.
- In what respect is a mushroom that is for eating not “functional”? If the function of a mushroom is to be eaten then all mushrooms are performing a function…. unless we’re replacing “functional” here with “medicinal woo woo”. In which case the function here appears to be to drain you of cash while adding zero proven additional health benefits. If by functional we mean “turned into a powder that I can sprinkle on fucking everything” then I suspect this to be actually the opposite of functional. They are decorative, performative, theatrical and possibly even bloody pointless but functional mushrooms they are not. God, I hate food marketing.
- Are you trying to sell me mushroom coffee? If you think I’m putting mushroom powder in my coffee you are high.
- Is this related to your mania for baobab powder, Maca root and other nutritional woo? Because I see you, Whole Foods. I fucking SEE YOU. Selling me $10 powder shots to reduce my wallet weight and add extra gritty nastiness to my smoothies is a god damn joke if this is what is happening here. J’ACCUSE, Whole Foods!
Lewishambles trendometer rating: 1/5 (if this does become a trend I will probably set something on fire)
Fancy tingly-mouth pepper. I’m not sure what else I need to add here. We’ve survived the onslaught from both pink pepper and Szechuan pepper. This johnny-come-lately is going up against the likes of Sarawak pepper and Long Pepper and honestly I’m not even sure I have the will to give a shite here especially as I’ve run out of other peppers to write about here.
Lewishambles trendometer rating: 2/5 (Guys if you really care about pepper that’s cool but I really don’t think this is the next dried cranberries, people)
Speaking of the next cranberries, no lesser a mortal than the Blessed Nigella herself has declared pandan leaf (also known as Asian screwpine) to be the next big thing in baking. To which most of Asia fell about laughing cos we (yes, I’m including my big white quarter-Melayu ass in this group) have known about the magic of this crap for fricking YEARS. And I’m fairly sure that most western gap-yah students have eaten a pandan roll in a dorm in Thailand and thought “mmm tasty” without realising that this delicate, vanilla-like flavour is in fact one of the most popular flavourings in Asian dessert cuisine. Myself, I’m partial to the fantastic nuclear-green as well as the sweet perfumed taste which is essential in most nonya kueh. The picture below features just some of the fantastic things you can do with this magical ingredient. If this is a trend, then sign me up.
Lewishambles trendometer rating: 4/5 (I’m willing this to happen if only cos I want my pandan ice cream fix and I want it NOW thankyouverymuch)
The New new Wellness – Veganism and alcohol-free cocktails
Okay. *cracks knuckles*
Like fermentation above, I covered some of this last year, when I was deeply suspicious of the “dead eyed, glowy haired girls crooning about how concerned they are regarding my relationship with gluten” (damn, I was on FIYAH last year).
Unlike fermentation above, I’m a little less apoplectic about this largely as it’s stopped pretending to be something it’s not and has become a little more fully-focused on environmental and ethical concerns rather than having been fully co-opted by Thinness Capitalism. The media especially should be lauded for giving airspace to a more sceptical and critical view of some of the claims, the likes of Angry Chef having issued a best-selling and fully excellent book and some excellent and timely documentaries by actual professional science Doctor-people (as opposed to former/failed actresses and heiresses) having probed the troubling relationship of some of the “wellness bloggers” to some out-and-out charlatans.
It’s also heartening to see veganism celebrated as an art in its own right and a wealth of new and interesting techniques and ingredients becoming available as a result. I’m reading a lot of new recipes, discovering new food writers (Meera Sodha is a particular gem) and getting truly inspired in my everyday cooking without feeling like the Man is out to get me. It’s a good time for food and if it comes with a soupçon of smug then it’s bearable at least. And I’m not quite as furious about the fecking smoothie bowls as I used to be if only because everyone else appears to have realised they’re tasteless bollocks, thank god.
My one question at this stage is whether this really counts as a trend. It’s a bit like me declaring that the popular beat combo “One Direction” look to be *quite* the hit with the young ladies of the internet and expecting everyone to declare me Nostradamus. There are three vegan options on the menu at Nando’s. If something is clearly well and truly now part of the mainstream is it even a trend?
Sitting alongside this “trend” is a renewed interest in the fact that fewer and fewer young people are choosing to drinking themselves to death at the weekends (although there are still too many people doing this. Please stop, people). The rise of alcohol-free mixology has been a real interest to me and I’m really excited at trying a range of refreshing drinks which aren’t necessarily boozed to the max. It certainly makes a difference to those who’ve been languishing in the Schloer badlands for years (as an aside, did anyone ever like schloer?).
Does this mean I’ll be ditching the joys of a well-chilled Reisling? Well, no. Does it mean I’ll replace my gin with a pricey non-alcholic digestif such as Seedlip? Maybe not. But it’s a really creative and interesting approach to a new culture of mindfulness in relation to the way we consume something which while delicious and fun is probably also terrible for us, and I think it’s rather a grand thing on that basis.
Lewishambles trendometer rating: 5/5 (it’s a new movement, people. I’m just not sure if it’s a trend…)
SO there we have it folks… may 2018 bring us much mirth as the food industry attempts yet more hilarity. Honestly, it’ll need to work hard to beat Functional Fucking Mushrooms.