Matt Pre­ston:

food trends The wood on

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - NEWS - MATT PRE­STON

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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