Rachel Cooke

Kelp noo­dles, tahini ice-cream … who dreams up these mod­ish lists of what we’ll be eat­ing in 2019?

The Observer Food Monthly - - CONTENTS -

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

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