It’s time for our annual look at the hot food trends for the coming year. While some trends are short-lived, there’s usually a consensus in the media as to what they will be, and that consensus can be revealing.
2019 is going to be another banner year for the health-conscious. One item currently catching fire is oat milk, which is not milk at all—it’s produced by soaking oats in water and reducing the results. While you wouldn’t want to drink a glass of it, it works well as a dairy alternative in coffee. Quaker Oats is getting ready to introduce a commercial version, proof that oat milk has gone mainstream.
Americans continue to discover vegetables (you know, the stuff you order in a steak house to accompany your filet mignon). Vegan jerky is poised to explode, using ingredients such as eggplant, coconut and mushrooms and kelp. While they won’t displace pork rinds on Super Bowl Sunday, these snacks will cater to a vegan population that is increasing exponentially.
Given the popularity of legal cannabis, it’s not surprising to learn that everyone is forecasting Cannabidiol (or CBD for short) to storm the market. It’s a non-hallucinogenic product of the marijuana plant, and is useful as a sleep aid, for pain relief, or to reduce anxiety. It’s already possible to buy CBD-spiked water, coffee and gummy bears, and there are more products on the way.
Asian food remains hot at the restaurant level, along with Middle Eastern cuisine. One spice gaining in popularity is Za’atar, a blend of thyme, oregano, sumac, ground sesame seeds and salt. It’s turning up on mainstream menus, as well as on the grocery store shelf.
Two beverage trends are worthy of mention. One is the Milkshake IPA, which is an India Pale Ale brewed with lactose, which gives the beer a full-bodied, creamy texture. The other is Orange Wine, which is made from grapes rather than oranges: the wine is fermented on the grape skins until it turns a pale amber color. Ironically this is not new at all, but rather a revival of an age-old style that existed centuries before today’s winemaking technology (the color used to be described as partridge eye).
If you think we’ve arrived at the last days of civilization (and there are many data points to support that theory), here’s something to cheer you up: There’s a growing movement to ban cell phones in restaurants. 11 Madison Park, the Michelin three-star Manhattan temple of gastronomy, has instituted a phone-free initiative. Diners are provided with a box in which to store their devices during dinner, while they enjoy the company of their friends and family. If it catches on it will likely mean the death of Instagram, but that’s a small price to pay.