No one saw 2020 coming, so trying to predict food trends in 2021 seems like a crapshoot, but anyway…
Reading an article in the Miami Herald Food section, culled from different sources, one of the first unbelievable predictions was that the comfort food craze was over. Au contraire, ye crystal ball-gazing, foodie soothsayers. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s still this little thing called a Global pandemic going around. And yes, there are vaccines, but many of us (including yours truly) haven’t been able to get it yet, so we are still in need of comfort and, after last year, may always be in a constant state of needing nourishing, comfort food.
- Comfort Food
I predict comfort food is here to stay, albeit with a difference. Perhaps we lighten it up a bit, like using 2% milk in our Mac-N-Cheese instead of whole, or ground turkey in place of ground beef in our meatloaf. Eating all those comfort foods in 2020 contributed to many people’s increasing middle (aka, the COVID 19), and health and fitness is on everyone’s minds these days.
2. Retro Food
Linked to #1, I see a trend of going back to the basics and revisiting beloved food from the past. My friend got her kids a fondue set, with a fondue cookbook for a Christmas present last year; this seems the perfect time and place for this 70’s throwback. Fondue is dining as entertainment and since we can’t go to movies, plays, or concerts, what better way to entertain ourselves than through food? Plunging meat, bread and veggie chunks into a pot of gooey cheese might not be front row seats to Hamilton, but as my motto was for 2020- “It’s better than nothing.”
Last year taught us all how important our health is to our well-being and this trend, which has been ongoing for years, is more important than ever. The introduction of tasty faux meat by companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible, make eating meatless meals almost painless.
Linked to #3, it’s the trend of mixing vegan or vegetarian meals in with meals of animal protein. Diners awareness of the environmental consequences of eating meat, as well as health reasons, have influenced this trend. While some of us will never be vegetarian, we can try “Meatless Mondays” or trying to eat some meals without causing harm to an inhabitant on Old McDonald’s farm. And, if you want to eat at McDonalds, you can now get a veggie burger (Beyond Meat) instead of Moo Moo meat.
5. Jackfruit, Monkfruit, Hearts of Palm and Chickpeas are hot.
Jackfruit takes on the flavor of whatever it is spiced with, or sauce it is cooked in, but has the texture of pulled meat, making it perfect for vegetarian cooking (see #3). Monkfruit is a natural sweetener. Hearts of palm has been made into a pasta-like product called Palmini; it also adds a nutty and meat-like texture to other dishes (I like to add a small slice into my deviled eggs to add a little oomph and bite). And apparently chickpeas are the “new cauliflower” of trendy foods. Not just for hummus anymore, they’re now being made into pasta, tofu, tortillas and even frozen desserts.
6. Seasonings and Condiments from Faraway Places
Since travel has been extremely limited, people will be cooking meals from around the globe in their own kitchens, experts predict. I have definitely hopped on this trend, making Chili Oil (Chinese), Dukkah (Eygyptian), Za’atar (Turkish) and Garam Masala (Indian) to add a little interest to my meals. These are also easily ordered online.
7. Hot Cocktails are hot!
Hot Toddies, Mulled Wine and Spiked Cider are supposedly making a comeback. This makes sense for those living in frigid locations, especially with those being snowed in at this time of year. I myself enjoy hot apple cider, spiked with Buttershots Schnapps Liqueur. Heated up and served in a glass mug, with a cinnamon stick garnish, it’s delicious and comforting nightcap.
“I’ll have a glass of mulled wine, heavy on the cinnamon, easy on the cloves.”The angel Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life.
8. Small Batch Baking
We all know baking was big in 2020, but it started a trend for small batch baking, where recipes were cut down to more reasonable portions for one or two people. Because how many loafs of banana bread can one person eat?
9. Make your own Condiment Trend
I also hopped onto this trend, making Pesto (Italian), Chimichurri (both red and green) and Shug hot sauce (Middle Eastern) in 2020. Last week for the Superbowl, my husband smoked a Pork Butt. It called for serving it with a vinegar sauce and since we didn’t have any, he whipped some up himself. We all agreed it was the perfect compliment to the pork, not as overpowering as Barbeque sauce and the vinegar cut the fattiness of the pork. Making your own condiments puts you in control of the ingredients used and allows you to tailor it to your own tastes. Plus, it’s cheaper than buying store-bought condiments.
10) Take Out As a Way of Life
I think many of us pivoted from meals out in restaurants, to take-out, but branched out from the normal Pizza and Chinese food trend to a whole new world of restaurants, as the restaurants pivoted in turn. I tried Southern Food (Root and Bone), Indian (Ghee), Thai (Atchana’s), Sushi (Moon Thai) and make-it-yourself pizza (Farinelli) last year and, while not the same experience as dining out, it was fun. Along with this trend is a revolt against Uber Eats, whose service really eats in to a restaurant’s bottom line, as well as higher menu prices and a no-tipping format.
11) Alternative flours
Have you made a trip down the flour aisle in your grocery store lately? There is a dizzying array of flours now available- tapioca, amaranth, banana and coconut, to name a few. Perhaps this arouse as an alternative to regular flour, which was in short supply during the beginning of the Pandemic, or perhaps we’re just bored with the basic All Purpose and Whole Wheat. What took us so long?
12) Chinese American, Afro-Caribbean, Indian, Singapore and Jewish Cuisines
Unfortunately, I don’t have a good Chinese restaurant anywhere near me, but I do love some good dim sum. Happy Year of the Metal Ox, by the way. Apparently the other cuisines are also on the rise. I am all in favor of trying new cuisines- if we can’t travel to other countries in 2021, at least we can sample their cuisines in our own kitchens.
Up Next: The week in Review