From marvelous mushrooms to carbonated coffee, these tastes will be in your mouth before long.
The moment I finish one meal, I'm already thinking about the next, so it's no wonder I get excited at the thought of what I'll be eating six months from now. The predicted food trends for 2018 are in, setting the stage for what looks to be a curious (and surprisingly healthy) set of flavors.
1. The Four Ks: Kimchi, Kraut, Kefir, Kombucha
This pronouncement from The Guardian should come as no surprise. Fermented foods have been popular for several years now, but now they are filling fridges faster than ever before as words like "gut health" and "microflora" enter the vernacular.
Being trendy, of course, means that most of these foods cost an astronomical amount of money in the grocery store, so I recommend you learn how to make them yourself. Start with sauerkraut or kimchi, both of which are dead-easy to make.
This one pops up on every food trend list I've looked at. I can't say I've seen much evidence for it in my small town, except for my naturopath handing out free samples of chaga tea, but other reliable sources say it's the next big thing. The Guardian writes:
"The Aztecs and the Egyptians revered them, reishi – the mushroom of immortality – has been a Chinese remedy for millennia, and a US study recently proclaimed that eating any five mushrooms per day could stave off heart disease, cancer and dementia. Yet what’s less widely known, in the UK at least, are their adaptogenic properties – it’s their botanical nature that greatly improves your body’s ability to adapt to stress."
3. Meatless meals
Finally, the world has listened to TreeHugger! Whether it's for health, ethical, or environmental reasons, or perhaps just for novelty, the number of meatless meal offerings at restaurants and supermarkets has grown enormously. Whether it's plant-based proteins like tofu or tempeh, meat-like substitutes such as seitan (made from gluten) or Beyond Beef crumble, chewy jackfruit, paneer, or legumes, people are feeling satisfied at mealtime without animal flesh on their plates.
4. Canned seafood
This prediction, made by Bon Appétit, is an interesting one; I thought I was the only one buying the dusty old cans of New Brunswick smoked herring and sardines at my grocery store, but apparently not. If you eat fish, then canned fish (sourced sustainably, of course) is a good way to get important omega-3s in your diet and to buy the smallest critters at the bottom of the food chain, which are numerous, take fewer years to grow, and have less bio-accumulation of chemicals in their bodies. Bon Appétit writes about fish in the context of Portuguese cuisine, which it also thinks will become popular in the near future:
"There’s a way to bring this trend [of Portuguese sensibility] into your home, and it comes in a tin. Sustainable seafood packed in olive oil. You’ve seen it before, but the options for the good stuff have exploded over the past year. Jose or Bella tinned fish from Portugal should be found in your pantry, as well as the local wine bar, ready to be loaded on toast."
5. Japanese breakfast
Another Bon Appétit prediction, the Japanese breakfast is the antithesis of the syrup-laden waffles, fried eggs and sausages, and even guac-loaded toasts of most breakfast joints. The Japanese breakfast is what BA's deputy editor, Andrew Knowlton, would happily eat every day. It is savory, flavorful, light yet satisfying. It reminds me of my favorite breakfast, which is a fried egg over rice noodles with kimchi, green onions, and a dash of soy sauce.
"The spread is everything I want. Some beautiful mixed rice with either roe or uni. Eggs with furikake. A small bowl of miso for seasoning. A pickled vegetable salad, and a piece of perfectly grilled fish. It all makes you feel healthy and alive."
6. Carbonated cold-brew coffee
Did you know this was a thing? I didn't know this was a thing, but according MIC, it most definitely is. Think of cold-brew coffee blended with soda, and you get the idea. Stumptown launched its first version this past summer, and with the way things go, every other coffee shop will be trying to copy them by the time next summer rolls around. Food & Wine reports:
"Baristas began mixing soda water with cold brew concentrate, then adding in flavors, and the idea behind Sparkling Cold Brew was born. The brand says it went through as many as 50 different iterations of the drinks, including, unsurprisingly, some cola-style versions that never made it past the testing phase."
7. Hard cider
Move over, craft beer. It is hard cider's turn to be in the spotlight. This old-fashioned beverage was once a staple, and is now poised for a comeback, according to Mic. While sales have not yet increased significantly, customers are expressing greater interest. Anecdotally, I'd say I'm seeing it around a lot more, both at the liquor store and at house parties.
8. Moroccan food
This prediction comes via Pinterest, which says that searches for Moroccan flavors were up 2,579 percent in 2016. The idea is that this will translate to real, delicious food on people's dining tables, bursting with delicious cumin, cardamon, coriander, olives, chickpeas, and preserved lemons. Is your mouth watering yet?
9. 'Free-from' foods
As someone who eats everything, I find this 'free-from' trend rather amusing, but I do understand its value from a health and allergy perspective. Many foods these days are being defined by what they do not contain, i.e. gluten, sugar, wheat, dairy, nuts, animal products, soy, etc. This goes along with increasing interest in restrictive diets for health reasons, often practiced voluntarily. While I know many people love their free-from foods, I personally prefer to worry more about what my food does contain.
10. GIY, or Grow It Yourself
This prediction has been made by Canadian supermarket giant Loblaws. A renewed interest in gardening has got more people growing their own ingredients than we've seen in the last several decades. Whether it's just a tomato plant on your balcony, a mass of fresh herbs, or a full-blown, ripping-up-the-lawn type of endeavor, people want control over what they put in their bodies. As Loblaws writes, "2018 is bringing with it backyard beekeeping, window box gardens, and city chicken coops." Can't say we see anything wrong with that!