With 2016 just around the corner, it’s time to pull out the crystal ball and see what the kitchen mystics are predicting for the coming year. I scoured the Internet to find out what to expect in foods, groceries and restaurants. Let’s get up to speed, so there’re no surprises. Here’s what to look for in food trends this year:
Wine in Cans
When I mentioned this to an old friend, I heard an audible gasp. “What’s the world coming to?” she moaned. But if you’re on a bike or hiking trip, dining alone or traveling on a train, wine in a pop-top can might be your cup of …uhh…tea, so to speak. No openers to keep up with, no corks to smell, no stemmed glasses to pamper, and no expensive storage racks. And it’s much quicker and easier to chill.
Look for more gut healthy foods on menus: (1) kombucha, a tangy, lightly fizzed and sweetened black or green tea drink with supposed healthy benefits; (2) tempeh, nutty tasting, fermented soybeans shaped into small cakes; (3) miso, a paste made from barley, rice or soybeans used in soups, dressings and sauces; (4) yogurt; (5) kefir, a fermented milk drink that tastes like liquid yogurt; (6) sauerkraut, fermented cabbage; and (7) kimchee, a spicy, Korean version of sauerkraut.
Menus in 2016 will be showing more vegetable entrees in keeping with the “plant-centric gastronomic boom” and the increase in the number of part-time vegetarians—or “flexitarians,” as they’re called. Two-thirds of Americans believe vegetarian meals can be as satisfying as those that include meat. Even White Castle has a veggie slider on a vegan bun! Look for the terms “charred” or “burnt” being used on more menus to describe vegetable sides.
Less Food Waste
Nose-to-tail, root-to-leaf cooking will help counter the billions of tons of food thrown out every year. In the war on waste, chefs will be incorporating meat trimmings as well as vegetable roots and stalks into more recipes.
New Seasonings and Tastes
In 2016 we’ll see more seasonings from Southeast Asia and North Africa, and the use of more smoked spices to liven up dishes. New spice flavors to look for include, Indian ghost pepper, Korean sambal and North African sumac and dukka.
Seaweed Replaces Kale
Let’s hope something replaces kale. I’m weary of those austere kale salads. Awash with minerals, this “green from the sea” is packed with energy boosting nutrients. Bon Appétit calls seaweed a “hip health food loved by chefs.” Look for such innovative offerings as seaweed popcorn, seaweed cookies, seaweed beignets, and seaweed spaghetti.
Restaurant Go Hyper-Local
The “clean eating” trend continues. Consumers are looking for local, fresh, organic, and traceable foods and are willing to pay extra for them Not only will more restaurant be buying from local producers, they’ll be serving food grown in house from small garden plots and rooftop gardens.
Small Neighborhood Groceries
Micro stores are springing up in downtown neighborhoods, where many young urbanites live and shop. Sometimes they’re called farmers-market stores or boutique grocers. But don’t expect a vast stock. They carry items that appeal to Millennials, who appreciate carefully selected products along with personal service and a relaxed atmosphere.
Like Rodney Dangerfield, avocados don’t get the respect they deserve, except when they’re mashed into guacamole. Oil is made from everything else, so why not avocados? As a bonus, avocados have the good kind of fat. The oil is pressed from the pulp rather than the seed, has a mild smell and buttery texture, and works well for fish and grilled vegetables. You can cook and bake with avocado oil as well as use its oil-based products to moisturize your skin and hair.
Look for compartmentalized, non-toxic lunch boxes for transporting healthy snack and lunches. No need to use plastic baggies with questionable BPA, lead and phthalate content.
You can soak just about any fruit in water and come up with your own flavored drink. Here’s how.
Pundits like to say, “Chicken is the new pork belly.” With beef prices at all time highs, serving chicken makes a lot more sense. St. Louis has shown a passion for poultry with the opening of a number of new chicken-based restaurants in the area. You can find fried chicken on menus from Sweetie Pies in the Grove to Niche in Clayton.
The Delivery Revolution is underway. App-only delivery service from commissaries, by-passes traditional restaurants, simplifies mobile ordering and makes it a lot easier to “dine in.” Fast food chains, as well as restaurants, are racing to get their food to your door, too. UberEATS boasts the fastest delivery of food anywhere in the world. They’re in 12 cities now. Google and Amazon are also testing the market.
This raw fish salad, served as an appetizer in Hawaii, is often called the island’s “soul food.” The hunks of marinated fish (pronounced POH-keh) are now springing up in salads on the mainland. Can St. Louis be far behind?
Stylized Ice Cream Sandwiches
Say hello to ice cream tucked between waffles, Snickerdoodles, coconut macaroons, brownies, Whoopie Pies with flavors to match: sweet potato ice cream, popcorn ice cream and bacon ice cream.
Modern Ethnic Cooking
Look for more Jewish cuisine and a growing interest in North African flavors and mid-Eastern dishes. St. Louis Chef Ben Poremba (Elaia, Olio, and Old Standard) is set to catch that wave with the opening of an Italian restaurant and a Jewish deli in Clayton next year. With the 2016 Olympics in Rio, expect to see more interest in South American foods. Lifting of the Cuban embargo will also encourage Cuban cuisine to show up on menus.
Summing up, Forbes Magazine said that in 2016, food will be more mobile, more artisan, more unique, and more expensive. You may not like that but, at least, you know what to expect.
Happy New Year!