Food trends are funny things. As Good Food Ireland chef Barry Liscombe of Hartes of Kildare said recently in our latest How to Become a Chef blog, ‘trends are the nature of the beast that is cooking – they come and go!’ They most certainly do! The ’50 Shades of Kale’ Facebook page is testament to the modern popularity of this super healthy vegetable, which has been trending on the restaurant scene for quite a number of seasons now. Chefs have maximised it’s nutritious goodness and intense ‘green leaf ’ taste in a variety of dishes and drinks – we’ve even seen kale cocktails! But we’ve got news for you. Or should we say, a recent article in The Taste has news for you. And the news is – perhaps kale has had its day. When you’ve picked yourself up off the floor after that revelation, let us explain. Discussing latest food trends, the Irish online food magazine suggests that kale and quinoa are about to be knocked off their perches by more ‘exciting’ food choices, which look set to contend the throne of fashionable foods to be seen eating. (By the way, can we just say we actually like kale, one of the long standing traditional winter greens of this country. In fact we’d even go as far as to say we’ve come to love it as dearly as we love our humble spud. Put the two of them together in a fried kale and mashed potato bubble and squeak fest and you’ve got food heaven. If it’s not broken, why fix it…)
This article tells us, among other things, that Fried Chicken is replacing Pulled Pork (coming to a gastropub near you soon, no doubt!) Artisan candyfloss is knocking artisan popcorn into a cocked hat. And eating your normal bowl of porridge for breakfast is sooooo last century. Now the familiar bowl of oats is being touted as the new supper superstar – cooked in savoury recipes which fit the main course bill – there’s even a Los Angeles restaurant dedicated to it. Can you see yourself ordering a savoury porridge dish for your dinner? One quick glance at the Porridge & Puffs menu reveals your porridge may be cooked with heirloom squashes or roasted champagne grapes, to name just a couple of additions. For what they’re worth, here are few more ideas we came up with. How about rarely found sea vegetables foraged from a far flung coast, herbs picked from the peaks of a mountain range, or wild mushrooms from a secret remote woodland no one but those who know the special gatherer’s code can find?
Are we being facetious? Perhaps. But it’s got to that point in food. What is going to be turning heads next? Which ingredient/dish/recipe is set to be reinvented/rediscovered/recycled in order to persuade punters to part with copious amounts of money if they want to be seen to be in the ‘know’ as to where the good culinary stuff is happening? Has the food industry turned into the modern day version of the Emporer’s New Clothes? What does it mean for the profession at large, when one bandwagon after another is wheeled out onto the dining scene, for all to jump aboard? Sure, it’s the nature of physical existence that everything has its cycle. For something to grow and prosper, something else must die. Think of the garden and how it dies off each year, only to spring back to life as soon as the first rays of spring sunshine warm the soil.
In culinary terms, trends will always be there in a profession which needs to search out the new and different so it can continue to exist and attract attention at the highest levels. However one element which will always be a constant in the real dining experience is the use of honest, healthy, wholesome seasonal ingredients, cooked simply and well, in combinations that work for pleasure of taste and great food memories for the diner. Whilst we readily embrace the opportunity to come away from a restaurant with our palates pleasurably confused and our minds bewildered at the creativty of the chef, we also consider ourselves blessed to be able to enjoy the fundamental delight that eating a well flavoured dry aged steak or a perfectly poached soft and golden yolked fresh free range egg brings – the purity of that second when you bite in and believe you’ve died and gone to heaven. These and other classic meals may no longer be considered ‘out there’ in the imagination stakes – but they are forever young in our hearts.
Let us know your thoughts…