Trend hunting can either be termed a vivacious sport, or a showcase of the season’s freshest players in their exhibit-worthy finery.
Either way, combining it with my inhalation of everything culinary, it is inevitable to unleash the food trends for 2014. Having successfully foretold the fortune of food in 2013, its time to spin the wand again and absorb, inhale, consume and enjoy!
Cauliflower is officially the hottest vegetable of the year. Having touted its texture and taste to be rather impeccably like mashed potatoes when treated right with salt and olive oil, its one of my favorite vegetables. Fried, boiled, mashed, dressed, fried, sautéed… or a part of a plethora of vegetable dishes, it always leaves a textural tang of satisfaction. I have had it in all my favorite foodie cities: from Delhi to New York to Los Angeles to Nashville to Chicago to San Francisco to Budapest… and I’m still yearning for more. Watch out for more popularity of its cousins too: purple cauliflower and brocco-flowers.
Eggs All Day
Eggs have just gotten sexier from protein breakfasts, personifying the notion that good workouts lead to glamorous opportunities. Eggs will show up across the day, in lunch pastas and quiches to atop dinner pizzas or bordering biryanis. Seen in the whole and under-processed, these will remain true to the trend of simplicity, or be transformed courtesy of a golden yolk into the likes of egg yolk noodles or yolk fillings for deviled eggs. Seen as a healthy source of protein, the cholesterol jump is overshadowed by the trend for all things natural.
South Asian Herbs and Spices
Unlocking themselves from my mom’s kitchen are the likes of turmeric and fenugreek, herbs with potent healing powers, and which make curry yellow, entrees green, and add that aromatic mysticism that makes us crave Indian food. Thankfully trending, I’ll make sure mommy gets her recipes famous now!
Midwestern as the new Southern
Southern food has long been a comforting staple, with everything smothered in butter, swimming in the warm fluffiness of bread and emerging seductive and fried from a simmering pot of oil. Heavenly really, but with the emergency of root vegetables and whole meats from the midwest, perhaps this year will show more focus on a flyover region that lies East of the ethereal mecca of food, California.
Breads have had a cyclical life with trends, varying from artisan to staple. However, with the gluten free era at a peak, the favorite starch is once again becoming trendy. Flavors, as well as formations like dips or bases for other flavors, are all in demand. As are different bread insertions: pumpkin seeds, olives, onion, caramel… and even a brioche from Wendy’s! Let’s not forget of bread muffins, flatbreads, bread pudding, and the so many more Chopped-like repurposings.
Akin to last year, bitters continue their triumphant foray into the land of culinary. Differing this year only based on flavor options and homemade renditions, since the trend of a bitter flavor profile continues to become palatable. Think kale juice in salads, broccoli rabe on pizza, and the classic overly bitter dark chocolate. Accenting dishes to add a perfect complementary flavor, one can expect seeing them in desserts, teas, entrees, and even ice cream floats! Will bitter be the new salted caramel?
Just because its vegetarian does not mean it is not nutritious or protein rich, something proven in 2012 and 2013. But now, it is all about gourmet vegetarian, including the price tag. For while vegetables may be less pricy than meats, they can still be luxurious. I’m obviously delighted to order an eggplant steak with all the richness and price of its namesake, or multi purposed vegetables that create a delightful meal that makes one forget of the dense absence of meats. So let’s get ready for beet and potato chocolate cakes, carrots as a meal, barbecued vegetables, cauliflower wings, kale chips, and so much more!
Move over fusion, hybrids are here to conquer, much to the success of the likes of cronuts and ramen burgers. It’s almost like foods have decided to go promiscuous or have undergone an identity crisis: with pizza flavored popcorn to mint chocolate chip potatoes to pumpkin spice vodka, this is truly a season of innovation, invention and gastronomy. Watch out for Indo-Korean, Southern-Vietnamese , Latin-Indian, and other juxtapositions that evoke salivations.
Everything Free as the new Healthy
Are allergies on a rise or is the awareness about them simply becoming a fad? With gluten free having exploded into aisles of every market, the free-of-allergens trend is here to stay. Soy free, dairy free, you name it: expect higher prices for consumable foods, often framed as healthy. Hopefully these come with enlightenment that they are not actually natural, nor diet foods – but rather as caloric and fat-infused as the regular thing. Take sugar free for instance – low on sugar, but high on acid (in the case of sodas) or fats. Brings to mind the old Chuppa Chups ad. But yet, sugar free everything will reign supreme this year, albeit not promoting substitutes, but natural sucrose or simply the lack thereof!
Jumping on the high fiber bandwagon is the trend of edible packaging. Not your Coldstone Creamery solid chocolate cupcake liners for ice cream cupcakes, which are however decadent. Rather, coming from consumer demand is a trend of understanding what a food is packaged in, and making it somewhat edible. Like Coolhaus ice cream from LA in edible wrapping made of rice paper. Green, responsible, nutritious and delicious!
3D Printed Food
I was fortunate to attend an event in Los Angeles where I learned about the technological forefronts of 3D printing via Autodesk. And while I received a sparkling dinosaur as my companion across the oceans, it comes as no surprise that 3D printing on food will be key to today’s culinary architecture. Confectionery in shapes, geometry in design, and more specificity in structure … all of which will blur the line between art and food even more.
So, what will emerge a winner, and what will languish as a fad?
As they say, no matter what the desintation is, enjoy the route… so I can assure you that I will have this checklist complete by mid year.
Till then, enjoy the trend watching… and tasting.