AND WE´RE BACK!
Its a New Year, people of the world. And this year I’m seeing it in in glorious Germany, home of bread and pig products and a worrying devotion to all things “BIO” in a way I’m almost impressed by. One thing that wont ever change? The TOMFOOLERY OF FOOD TREND PEOPLE!
Before we start this year’s list, informed by such sources as BBC good food, The Whole Foods trend list, Uber Eats and others, I should point out that a lot of listicles went META (or is that MEATA hawhawhaw) and started picking apart the ridiculousness of the food trends trend. To which I say: back off, buddies. Until you’re using your guardian articles to construct a carefully-crafted takedown of the fancy tea trend through a short play involving the personification of famous tea blends and brands I PITY your futile attempts to emulate my (free and very uninformed) craft!
SOOOOOO with that said, lets get DOWN TO BUSINESS.
This year, the hippies at Whole Foods appear to be smoking the same shit as last year despite the Amazon takeover, but we have new soothsayers on the block in the form of Ubereats and Deliveroo sneaking in on the predictions game. Eater very helpfully compiled all current known sources into a giant listicle of the predicted trends for 2019, and its from here that I’ve drawn my major sources.
Before I begin, a word:
NO LONGER ALLOWED TO BE A TREND: VEGANISM/WELLNESS
It’s been three years in a row that we’ve been told that veganism, wellness, vegetarianism and low-meat consumption is a “trend”. As I stated last year, it’s a bit rich to notice what’s happening around you, declare it a trend and act ASTONISHED when other people agree. It’s on the same level of foresight as screaming “I THINK IT’S GONNA RAIN!!” at your husband as the storm blows your roof off your house. Year after year, the soothsayers intone that more and more people will eschew or reduce meat consumption as opposed to frantically shoving animal bits into their faces at the slightest opportunity. But it all rings a bit hollow, because I’m not in the slightest bit interested in pretending that this is either a) new or b) surprising. So, for example, I’m not going to be looking at “PEGANISM” as a trend for 2019, even though I’m FURIOUS that Whole Foods has forced me to research this (its “Paleo-Veganism”, if you must know, and every bit as soul-crushingly stupid as that sounds. You, dear reader, will be spared my short play imagining Grog the Caveman as a nu-age vegan starving slowly but surely to death).
This doesn’t mean I won’t be covering/mocking vegan-adjacent trends. For example, I’ve got some CHOICE WORDS for faux-meat snacks as a trend. However, I am going to give it a rest trying to think of new ways to say IT’S NOT NEWS FFS.
Lewishambles trendometer rating: NOT ALLOWED
“Pacific Rim” Flavours
It was around 18 months ago that I first noticed it. On the posher high streets and inside the food markets, there was something fishy brewing. It was tasty and fresh looking and a bit like lazy sushi, and I was intrigued. It was Poke, pronounced “pohkay” as opposed to the “poke” I first attempted, and suddenly it went from niche to UBIQUITOUS overnight. It seems however that Poke is just the first of many of what Whole Foods assures me is a raft of PACIFIC RIM FLAVOURS about to kick down the door to my kitchen and TAKE OVER, BABY! Much like a giant exploding monster-robot from the Guillermo Del Toro film of the same name.
So, what exactly is a Pacific Rim Flavour? Definitive descriptions elude me, but it seems to be all about Oceania and the surrounding cuisines, especially Hawaii, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and Australia, with more spices. Lots of seafood and exotic fruit with the emphasis on freshness, sweet and heat from the aromatics of ginger, nutmeg and lemongrass, with some more unusual additions such as banana flower, candlenut and torch ginger thrown in. I’ll be honest lads, it sounds DELICIOUS, albeit expensive.
It was shortly after I researched the above that I had my epiphany. This “trend” is a bit of a cheat. You see, Hawaiian poke is already everywhere, the trend already happened – you know how I know? Because there are at least 5 poke joints in Hamburg, Germany, which is to food trends as Dogs are to the ballet – the two could technically be found together, but its kind of odd. And we’ve been eating southeast asian, Japanese and Korean food for YEARS, I’m drinking a ginger and lemongrass tea literally AS I TYPE. So its a bit of a cheat to say this is new, rather its a repackaging of a trend which already happened. I can see the futurologists now, frantically hedging their bets and patting each other on the back for identifying a cuisine which is blessedly broad enough to sound new while constituting a Sure Thing. There will be new flourishes and new branding but its still based on something the marketers already know is big with consumers. I suppose its for that reason I think this really could go somewhere, because it feels like a sure bet. On the other hand, consumers could find it a stretch too exotic and we will see the last of the Poke bowl joints die a slow and gruesome (and considering all the raw fish, a potentially pongy) death. It’s anyones guess right now…
Lewishambles trendometer rating: 3/5 could go either way. Either Poke is the tip of a big tasty iceberg or a flash in an ironically not-very-hot pan.
Honestly I’ve read a few descriptions of this from Whole Foods, to the Independent and Guardian and other variations. And I’m not sure I get it. Is Whole Foods saying that Cheeseboards are trendy? Because I while am HERE for this, its a bit like saying tweed is back. Although apparently that is too… Apparently portable cheeseboards and snack packs will also be a thing. Don’t tell them we already have Lunchables.
Lewishambles trendometer rating: As a trend, 1/5, because you’ve been able to get sharing platters at All Bar Ones for about a billion years now. But as a concept and something I want more of, because I like salty pig snacks, its a 4/5 for having friends give me this more often.
AAAAAAANNNNNDDD here to ruin the fun are the vegans. Okay. I’m not sure what faux meat jerky is, but I’m damn sure not going to let them steal my salami and tell me dates are a better alternative. Vegans already have LOADS of options on the snack board platter, what with tasty oil-and-bread and olives and tomatoes and GOD DAMN IT WHY CANT WE HAVE NICE THINGS? Honorable mention here for Seitan doing some heavy lifting in trend world while being genuinely a nice thing to eat, albeit definitely not a meat substitute.
Lewishambles trendometer rating: 3/5 I’m interested to see what this actually is, but if its just salty fruit leather I will throw something.
Shaved Ice and other alternative Ice “Creams”
Generally, the act of reading through these trends puts me in a mood halfway between wanting to set things on fire and setting myself on fire, so it makes a nice change to read something and think: Yes. This I am here for. Because god damn I love an ice cream. Germans fucking LOVE the stuff, and I’ve already put my research (ahem) skills to good test, tasting ice creams from Wandsbek to Finkenwerder in pursuit of the perfect pile of frozen goodness. Ignoring the irritating moniker of “trailblazing frozen treats”, the promise of Taiwanese shaved ice, frozen cheese swirls, avocado, tahini, and coconut-water flavours are exciting me rather than exhausting me. I note that all of these have in common a certain vegan-adjacent bent, and a wellness inspired “sound”, but I happen to think this rather a good thing. I rather like the idea of contaminating some of these tasty health treats with ice cream sinfulness.
Will it happen? Well, that’s the rub of it. I have this feeling that the likes of Whole Foods and artisanal shops will explore this trend, but I’m skeptical as to whether or not the local ice cream van is going to be handing out coconut-water gelato alongside the Mivvis.
Lewishambles trendometer rating: 2/5 I want this to happen SO BADLY but honestly like Pandan ice cream I’m afraid this is just teasing me!
Chef-driven Fast Casual Concepts
I read these words. I re-read them. I fail to understand. It depends upon me knowing what Fast Casual is, naturally, which upon examination appears to be not McDonalds but not quite an actual restaurant. A bit like a Vapiano or Shakeshack.
Key to the distinction seems to be increased costs and lack of table service, although what chef-driven means is beyond me. If it means celebrity chefs are going to do it, Jamie has been there and failed already. If it means it has chefs in the restaurant, I fail to understand who is currently there.
Is it a trend? No idea. I’m not even sure its a thing. The only other chef driving I’m aware of is Paul Hollywoods supercar show and I am NOT endorsing that as something we need more of.
Lewishambles trendometer rating: UNRATED as I dont understand it
FAT IS BACK BABY. I dont care if it is associated with paleo or Keto or whatever bloody diet is endorsing it this week, but coconut oils and butters, avocados and seed butters are here and tasty as all hell. Yes it might be linked to dietary woo-woo (for those who, like me, missed that particular trendy bollox known as Keto, its the Atkins but more judgemental. Chew on THAT) but I dont give a shit. WELCOME BACK, FAT! Good god we missed you.
Lewishambles trendometer rating: a BIG FAT 4/5, and I’m fully pleased about this
Single use plastic is terrible and I’m glad we might see some alternatives. It’s a royal pain in the arse if you forget your shopper, but honestly the packaging free shop makes me feel like an oldey timey pioneer lady at the General Stores living my best IRL Oregon Trail life and I am LIVING. Dip your hands into a jar full of lentils and tell me that isn’t borderline erotic.
Lewishambles trendometer rating: 5/5, and about time too
Just in time for Christmas, the Whole Foods Gods did what I’d been fully expecting those sad old hippies to do for the last three years and like, totally decided our food needed a chill vibe, dude. What with Canada legalising the wacky baccy due to Prime Minister Dimples and half of America now with a medicinal prescription for the Ganja, it was only a matter of time before we put the THC back into KITCHEN.
What does this mean in real life? Its a little early to say. It sounds like hemp rather than cannaboids will be the first incursion onto the kitchen shelves, what with pesky food safety laws and all that jazz. But don’t let the man kill your vibe, sweet cheeks, with more and more chefs and Martha fucking Stewart (?????)* adding to our collective human knowledge with recipes for the likes of Cannabis Oil Brownies, seems that those of you in a jurisdiction which permits it will be literally getting the munchies rather sooner than expected.
Lewishambles trendometer rating: 2/5, as I think, like fermented food, this will be all the rage in the foodie world, but your mum wont exactly offer you a space cake after your Sunday roast anytime soon
AND THAT’S IT! Well done for wading through it with me folks, and we’ll see where the year takes us.
*I’d like to pause here and draw your attention to the fact that, in the year of our lord 2018, both Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg released cookbooks and yet it was MARTHA who referenced baking space cakes on telly. Just a little mind bender for you there.