Hot off the heels of the annual National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, food bloggers and industry outlets are furiously compiling lists of food trends for 2012 and beyond based on displays, samples and wares from the three-day-long trade show.
Nation's Restaurant News says that the trendy takeaways from the NRA Show are things like "customizable coffee," "molecular for the masses" and -- naturally -- gluten-free and other assorted hypoallergenic foods. Food trucks and wine (imagine that!) are some of the "lasting trends" compiled by Smart Blogs post-NRA Show.
And some of these "trends" are more or less a given. But what about the ones that we keep promoting year after year, yet never catch on?
To quote Regina in the seminal teen drama Mean Girls: "Gretchen, stop trying to make fetch happen."
I love my grandparents, but I never understood why they gave me a fondue set as I set off for my freshman year of college. I didn't make fondue then, and I'm still not making fondue now. I know absolutely no one who is. Along with other "home entertaining" trends, this one seems content to stay firmly cemented in the past.
4. African cuisine
People are still confused when I tell them that Houston has a Little Nigeria. Even self-proclaimed "serious foodies" almost always refuse to accompany me to places like Peppersoup Cafe or Finger Licking Bukateria to try goat pepper soup or egusi. This one is still a long ways off, if it ever materializes at all, thanks to a general atmosphere of closed-mindedness when it comes to the Dark Continent.
Pies are not the new cupcakes. There is never going to be a "new cupcake," despite our insistence on this trend for at least the last several years. Let's all agree to move on, no?
2. Caffeinated foods
And thank fucking God for that.
1. Peruvian cuisine
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Unlike African cuisine, this has been actively pushed at all levels for the last five years or so. And in some areas, it's making headway: Flavors like lucuma and aji amarillo are finding their way into non-Peruvian dishes, while spirits like Pisco are being re-examined as the cocktail renaissance flourishes. Lima has an outstanding food scene that's appreciated on a global level. And at least here in Houston, there's one outstanding example of the genre in Latin Bites, while chefs like Jonathan Jones and Randy Rucker actively acknowledge Peruvian influences in their cooking. So it's not fair to say that Peruvian food hasn't had an impact.
But has it had the immense and far-reaching impact that trade rags and mags have insisted that it's just about to have, any day now? No, and I'm not certain it ever will. But that doesn't mean I'm not happy about the current ceviche wave we're riding as a result, and that I don't hope someone doesn't eventually prove me wrong.