The latest culinary buzzwords.
WE LIVE in an era of buzzwords.
We also live in an era where what we eat can be an expression of how we see the world, whether it’s a devil-may-care pursuit of hedonistic pleasure or a statement of our political leanings. No wonder menus, reviews and food articles are full of culinary buzzwords and cool terms to lure us in.
So, why not “heatmap” them to give us a snapshot of what the most used words are at the moment. Not only is this a handy way of seeing the latest chef and foodie obsessions, such as clean eating or indigenous ingredients, it also illuminates upcoming trends, like coal roasting replacing woodfire.
GOOD OL’ DAYS PART I
So many of the words and phrases in this map are linked to the perception that we yearn for a simpler time when things were house-made and came from the garden rather than a packet. I suspect that is why words like heritage, community and authentic score highly.
Likewise, old techniques like pickling and curing, old but newly fashionable ingredients like turnips and whey, or concepts like “urban honey” pop up.
GOOD OL’ DAYS PART II
The presence of old-school concepts like chow mein, vol-au-vents and rissoles, fit into the same territory of old favourites, even if they are given a knowing and slightly wry or ironic spin.
THE NEXT ASIAN WAVE
While bao and sriracha are still popular, we are seeing a lot more XO sauce on menus and in recipes. This leads me to suggest that just as poké is becoming the new health bowl, so XO sauce is becoming the new sriracha.
Along with fresh and delicious, a major food term is healthy. From this comes many of the other words in our map, such as activated and antioxidant.
Cross this with healthy hipsterism (rather than the fatty hipsterism that’s all about crumbing, barbecue meats and melted cheese) and you’ll realise why words like plant-based and koji aren’t a surprise. Especially as koji is a far more appealing term than calling it mould.
Fitting into the house-made movement are all the different types of butter – sea urchin butter, nut butters and a whole boom in cultured butters. It seems the offer of bread and butter is very different these days.
FUELLING THE FIRE
A while back I pointed out how many of the cool kids in restaurants overseas were embracing cooking over an open fire. This is reflected now with words like blistered, burnt and ash popping up alongside more familiar terms likes smoked and the old favourite barbecue, both online and on restaurant menus.
It might be a waning craze but you’ll still find wild foods like saltbush and sea vegetables cropping up on menus, albeit joined by an interest in using eucalyptus in a number of different ways, which is a more recent phenomenon.
Note: This heatmap can be used for a fun game of culinary bingo. How many words can you spot at the trendiest new restaurant, plant-milk obsessed cafe or the next episode of Masterchef? The small print: This list has been put together with the help of the delicious. team and other foodies including cookbook publishers and food writers.