Who decides what new trendy foods are ‘in’ and what’s ‘out’? Who makes these all important decisions regarding food trends that make the rest of us run to the nearest trader and buy truckloads of it? It is ultimately on us – we have the power!
See, smart marketing and beautifully executed advertising campaigns can only do so much. It is the consumers that decides if we want that campaign to succeed, which we do so when we spend our money on their product. Of course, then you have the people of influence like celebrities and celebrity chefs whom endorse products or promote certain ingredients. Jamie Oliver, for example, is a particularly strong influence to home cooks. Again, clever marketing. Perhaps food trends are like fashion trends; trickling down from haute, high-end restaurants to the more affordable, everyday establishments. And then there is the global influence; it seems as though Australia inherits some wacky food trends from America – but don’t blame us, they just seem to do everything a little bigger and a tad more intensely there.
Things like chocolate never go out of style. However, it seems as though kale, quinoa, raw desserts even fermented foods have passed their heyday. So what were the biggest food trends of 2015, and what do we predict will take us by storm in 2016?
It seems as though the year gone by had taken food trends to two extremes; whilst sales continued to soar for the loosely termed “superfoods“, 2015 also was the year of indulgent food trends.
So, for the love of food, lets be frank with each other. What did we fill our stomachs with in 2015?
Last year, we unbuckled our belts to make room for donuts. Lots and lots of donuts. There were Nutella donuts, salted caramel donuts, apple pie donuts, Ferrero rocher donuts, cookies and cream, mocha glaze, orange zest and vanilla crème, PB & J… I’ll repeat. Lots and lots of donuts.
In Brisbane, hungry customers lined up from 4.30am at the grand opening of Doughnut Time. As if that doesn’t show how committed we are to deep-fried pieces of dough, the city council had to issue a warning to the donut trader on the second day of trading because of the disruption to the footpath traffic.
I mean, Australians must be donut-crazy because everywhere I look, I see donuts… in almost every café and even in Topshop. Skinny jeans with a side of donut, anyone?
Meanwhile in Melbourne, straight from a sweet tooth’s dream came giant, piled-high milkshakes. You know, the ones that come in a jar of some sort, topped with a donut, whipped cream, lollies, your favourite chocolate bar and topped with snowy icing sugar – you know, for good measure. You might enjoy it, at least for first few gulps but lets be honest, we order it more for Instagram/Pinterest/Snapchat than ourselves.
Whilst the controversial Paleolithic diet wasn’t new in 2015, Pete Evans and his celebrity chef status definitely brought it under the microscope last year. However, I don’t think I’m the only one hoping that the infant bone broth saga should be left behind in 2015.
Coconut water, juices/smoothies (green or otherwise), and nut-milks
The appeal of these drinks is that they are “healthy”, right? Whilst they are not necessary for good health, they can be part of a healthy diet…but I wonder how some brands justify charging an exorbitant amount of money for these perceivably “healthy drinks”. It seems as though all they have to do is pop a juice/smoothie/nut-milk into a hipster-looking bottle, slap a fancy name on and drop the S-bomb (I.e. the word“superfood”) and this bad boy is ready to be sold at premium prices. Ouch, the sting of forking over $8 for a meagre bottle of juice.
How can we forget this super trendy menu item? A beaming purple acai smoothie served in bowls topped with fruit, seeds, nuts and/or granola with a name that got a few people scratching their heads. Ah-kai? ah-sigh? For what its worth it’s pronounced as ah-sah-eee.
Early in the year, this spicy hot sauce got our tongues wagging. Alas, trends are fickle things. It was good while it lasted, Sriracha.
Side note: Beyoncé still has hot sauce in her bag this year though, so it just might make a comeback sooner than we think (alright ladies now let’s get in formation) .
Is it just me, or was everybody loving ice-cream in 2015? Ice-creams made in front of you, ice-cream made with nitrogen, ice-cream in scrolls, the premium ice-creams of Gelato Messina. I rest my case.
Food predictions for 2016
Another gluten-free, ancient grain…
Because quinoa has been placed on a pedestal for too long and its time to welcome in the next big thing. Will it be amaranth? Millet? Teff? Kañiwa?
Amaranth is a native crop to Peru and grows tall with stunningly vibrant purple, red or gold flowers. This gluten-free, pseudo-cereal boasts an impressive 13-14% protein content in its raw form, is an excellent source of fibre and is also a notable source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
Millet is a species of crop including teff. Both can be cooked regularly, puffed to be used in breakfast cereals, made into porridge or ground to be used elsewhere (think pancakes and other delicious baked goods). More specifically, teff is a tiny grain (approx. 1mm) found in Africa that is also high in protein and fibre, and a source of calcium; one cup of cooked teff has roughly the calcium of half a glass of milk. It’s most commonly ground up and fermented to make injera, a spongy and sour African flatbread.
Then we have the Andean kañiwa (pronounced can-ee-wa). A limited number of studies have been conducted regarding the nutrition of this relatively unknown seed. However, what they do know is that it is closely related to quinoa, only half it’s size and supposedly contains three times the amount of iron than quinoa. According to a kañiwa distributor, cooked kañiwa is supposedly crunchy. This is distinctly different to quinoa, which is soft and fluffy when cooked.
Jamie Oliver raves about seaweed in his new book, and people are catching on. Not that this is anything new to the Japanese, who have been eating this iodine-rich sea grass for centuries. The major misconception of this one is that all seaweed is slimy, correct? Not at all. Seaweed comes in so many forms and varieties; crispy, soft, slippery, chewy… It’s incredibly versatile because of it’s mild taste. Use it in soups, top salads with it or use it as garnish. Take your pick. Seaweed may just be coming in the next big tide of food trends.
Especially around Melbourne, there has never been this many new specialty burger joints. They pop up like mushrooms from the ground and we seemingly cannot get enough of them. Pictures of piled-high burgers flood the image bank of the restaurant-finder app Zomato, which to me is a giant neon sign that burgers are ‘so hot right now’. And in case you haven’t noticed, regular burger don’t cut it anymore these days. Chefs are coming up with the most elaborate selections and flavours: wagyu, black angus, mexicana, portobello, haloumi, fish, pork belly, soft-shelled crab, unagi, salmon… and any topping your heart would ever desire, on brioche or sourdough, of course. Burgers literally everywhere and on almost every single brunch menu.
Personally, I think that 2016 will see a real push towards even more sustainable eating. Perhaps it will emanate via a broader movement towards more sustainable fishing and farming. Maybe it will resonate on an individual level and we’ll start reducing our meat intake and supplement it with an increase plant food consumption. Now, that is a food trend I want to be part of!
I myself am no vegetarian, and this may well be wishful thinking, but I am hoping that there will be a greater acceptance of vegetarianism and that it translates to the menus of food establishments. Perhaps 2016 is not ready for it, but hopefully in the future, we would begin to see vegetables replacing the traditionally meat as the centre-piece of a dish. Taboo, I know…but maybe, just maybe…