Weekend Edition food commentator Bonny Wolf offers her predictions of what we’ll eat in the new year.
Asia is the new Europe. It’s been gradual: from pan-Asian, Asian fusion and Asian-inspired to just deciding among Vietnamese, Korean, Tibetan and Burmese for dinner.
Should we have the simple food of the Thai plateau or the hot, salty, sour foods of southern Thailand?
The new flavors of the year won’t come from the kitchens of chefs trained at Le Cordon Bleu. More likely, they’ll trickle up from Asian street foods. Chipotle has opened ShopHouse, with a menu inspired by street food from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi.
Even comfort foods are becoming Asian: Vietnamese pho, Korean kimchi fried rice and Chinese hot pots.
Speaking of kimchi, we’ll see a lot more fermented food. Last year, we canned. This year, we ferment. Think sauerkraut. Or if you’re under 30, kombucha, which — for you old folks — is fermented tea. Fermented foods produce probiotics, good bacteria.
Good-for-you foods remain big. Vegetables are now entrees — as well as ice creams. I’m going to go out on a limb, though, and say Brussels sprouts may have peaked. Where do they have left to go? They’ve been paired with every ingredient known to modern cooks. They’ve gone from “Eww … Brussels sprouts” to being the most popular kid in vegetable school. They’ve been baked, breaded, roasted and shredded.
We’ll see more dark, leafy greens, beet tops, collards and probably even more varieties of kale. And expect more seaweed. It, too, contributes to long life. As a member of the baby boom, I can say this: We really want to hang on.
Veganism is getting even bigger, but so is nose-to-tail.
Farm-to-table now includes farm-to-bar. Mixologists (a.k.a. bartenders) have their own gardens or shop at farmers markets for produce to add to cocktails. Also watch for more smoked drinks — with smoked ice cubes, of course — and barrel-aged cocktails. Like everything else, they’ll be more savory than sweet.
And if you want just to be left alone to eat whatever unhip food you want, consider adding a little soy sauce.
Bonny Wolf is managing editor of American Food Roots.