Kelp noodles, tahini ice-cream … who dreams up these modish lists of what we’ll be eating in 2019?
My food trend for 2019: Frazzles
This time of year brings with it plenty of quite stupid traditions, and few of them more daft than the food industry’s annual announcement of what it believes we will all be eating next year. When I first noticed this particular brand of crystal-ball-gazing several years ago, I remember thinking: well, I guess it’s better than “What your star sign has in store for you”. But I’ve come to my senses now. Who comes up with this stuff? Is it possible they’ve never once stepped inside a supermarket, cooked dinner, or even ordered a takeaway? I sometimes get the feeling that these lists are generated by someone – or something – who does not eat at all.
According to what I’ve read so far, 2019 will be the year of Pacific-rim flavours such as dragon fruit and dried shrimp; shelf-stable probiotics (which seems to be an incredibly unsexy way of describing kimchi); and various new kinds of “frozen treats” (think tahini-flavoured icecream). Seaweed and hemp will be big, and so, too, will fake meat in the form of vegan jerky and faux bacon snacks – and, no, before you get excited, this doesn’t mean we’ll all be passing off Frazzles as the latest thing in canapes (alas).
Finally, there is fat. In the age of the low-carb diet, apparently the search is on for “new sources” of fat: dieters need the energy it provides. I think this means that these people, with their strange breath and their joyless attitude to potatoes, are going to be eating a lot more coconut butter in the near future. But, to be honest, by the time I got to this point my own energy levels were so low, there seemed to be nothing for it but to go downstairs and eat the Twix I stashed in the fridge earlier.
What will you be eating in 2019? Pretty much the same as you ate in 2018, I expect. What will I be eating in 2019? Ditto. Most of us don’t go in for the kind of preposterousness that comprises these lists, not only because life is too short to track down a dragon fruit, but because, with good reason, we’re suspicious of such stick-on modishness. What has it to do with us, and our lives? As it happens, I ate a small scoop of sallow-looking tahini ice-cream in a horribly fashionable restaurant only the other night, and while it wasn’t actively unpleasant, it seemed kind of pointless: as if the chef had forgotten to add the chocolate or the vanilla. It was certainly frozen, or just about, but a treat it most definitely was not.
You will say that these predictions are just so much silly marketing talk, and that people who work in commercial food development have to be seen to be doing something beyond improving the “recipe” of this or that ready meal – and in a way, you’d be right. Why am I getting so het up? All the same, I see this kind of thing as all of piece with our increasingly weird, confused and disconnected relationship with food. If, at one end of the scale, you’ve got the kind of disordered eating that involves scoffing a family-sized bag of Doritos in one go, at the other, you’ve got this stuff: nonsensical drivel about “wellness-focused” condiments, “fat bombs” and kelp noodles.
If I could gaze into a crystal ball and see 2019 in food, what would I like to find there? (Apart, perhaps, from a giant bag of Frazzles.) Well, this isn’t a prediction, but it remains a desperate hope, and it is that some time quite soon we will return to what the experts refer to as intuitive eating – by which they mean that we will put aside our crazy diets and loopy fads once and for all, and instead eat a little of everything, as and when it is easily available, whenever we like, though preferably at mealtimes. We will do this without feeling guilty or conflicted about it, and always, if possible, in the company of family and friends. The words “wellness-focused” will mean, as they do now, nothing at all to us, but we will nevertheless feel much better: happier, more in balance, perfectly at ease in our own kitchen cupboards. OFM [email protected]server.co.uk
Faux bacon snacks will be big –but, alas, this doesn’t mean Frazzles