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Remember me? The sun-dried tomato ...

If there ever was a food-fad on menus that burned ever so bright but flamed out so extravagently it was probably the sun-dried tomato.

At it's peak (circa 1980s/early 90s), you could find it in everything from the pedantic (pizza, pasta, sandwiches) to the exotic (remember crab cakes with sun-dried tomato paste or foie gras wrapped in sun dried tomatoes?) and to just the awful (sun-dried tomato ice cream!).

There are other fads that have come and gone, things like truffle oil, goat cheese, ponzu sauce, etc.

Some have had amazing staying power -- the most immediate that comes to mind is the omnipresent tuna tartar.

What do you guys think are food items that are well into their 15 minutes of fame?

I think pomegrenate is at about 13:45.

Kobe beef is at the 10 minute mark by my estimate.

But I do think that gelato has staying power.

And you?

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  1. Beets.

    Molten Lava Cake.



    "Carpaccio" as the prep for everything

    Gourmet Burgers

    Fusion for things that shouldn't be "fused"

    1 Reply
    1. re: Emme

      Sorry, bub. Cupcakes will never die!

      1. re: budlit

        Foam is at 21 minutes and counting. Make it go away. It looks like spit and rarely serves a purpose.

        1. re: Frolic

          This post is years old. And yet...I feel the need to tell you that I love you.

      2. I think Meyer Lemons are on their last few seconds of fame. Pork belly isn't far behind (although it shouldn't be, that's tasty stuff.) I disagree with budlit. Once we discover how to change the specific gravity of Jello, foam will have no limits.

        1. hummous (especially that made out of something other than garbanzos)
          childish desserts (cupcakes, hot chocolate, ice cream sandwiches, donuts)
          short ribs

          what's on its way back? I have this feeling about coconut...

          3 Replies
          1. re: scurvy

            depends where one eats, i suppose. i rarely encounter hummus (except at my felafel joint), and i can't remember the last time i had a quesadilla. then again boston has almost no mexican and only really crappy tex-mex.

            1. re: scurvy

              I was at Trader Joe's last night looking for a dip, and I believe there were 8 or 9 different kinds of hummus on that shelf. I had never noticed it before, but hummus was taking up almost all of the dip space.

              1. re: scurvy

                Hot chocolate, donuts, and ice cream sandwiches have been around forever. at least since I was born and i'm, umm, let's say 27 or thereabouts. And cupcakes, we have fought long and hard for our day in the sun, and we are here to stay. Tough cookies.

              2. More of a wish, but I think "Fruit flavored" waters and Vitamin waters and "Energy Drinks" (Red Bull, etc) are waning, as are light beers.

                At the fish market, I notice more old-school (no pun) fish like haddock and cod, and less tilapia....but this could well be a market availability thing.

                1. If coconut makes a big move, pineapple can't be far behind. (And that's not a good thing.)

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: Leper

                    what's so bad about pineapple?

                    1. re: budlit

                      budlit, When someone cooks using pineapple as an ingredient, they have run out of ideas and lost their way.

                      1. re: Leper

                        ridiculous! pineapples are delicious.

                          1. re: Leper

                            I meant leper got it wrong, I love pineapples, cooked and not cooked. I can think of a lot of good ways to use pineapple.

                            1. re: budlit

                              not to sound like mom, but... they're tasty AND good for the digestion!

                              i'd like to see a coconut + pineapple macaroon.

                            2. re: Leper

                              I guess you've never had a sublime Taco or Torta al Pastor... or a Manchamanteles or a Pineapple salsa or Lentils with Pineapple? Are you thinking canned pineapples... because fresh pineapples do exist in the world & make a great ingredient.

                              1. re: Leper

                                Not necessarily, you must have gotten pineappled out as a youngster. I have never ODed on it and when it's good, it's really, really good.
                                Let me guess- too much pineapple in jello and Hawaiian chicken over bad rice?

                              1. Balsalmic vinegar. I've never gotten on board with that.
                                Wasabi everything.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Scagnetti

                                  Ugh I love love love balsamic... white, dark, whatever.

                                2. certain things become anchored like barnacles, when you think they should be a flash flood. like cosmopolitans. i was "over" those 15 years ago. molten chocolate cakes, same thing.

                                  things i WISH would go away because they're omnipresent and so often badly executed:

                                  creme brulee
                                  tuna tartare
                                  fried calamari
                                  mini-burgers (sliders)

                                  certain things listed above, like kobe beef and goat cheese are standards in other cuisines. they got over-exposed and sometimes badly used here, but will not vanish. they're too delicious, and like with kobe perceived as a luxury item

                                  up and coming:

                                  yuzu juice
                                  old-school traditional cocktails
                                  offal on restaurant menus


                                  smaller portions

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    re your wishlist - "small plates" have been all the rage in TO for awhile - actually I think they are at about 13:00 min

                                    1. re: pescatarian

                                      there's a distinct difference between "tapas-style" ( i HATE that phrase) and portions not designed for sumo wrestlers. entrees are always too big for me, even at better places. and at chains, they're obscene.

                                    2. re: hotoynoodle

                                      AMEN to the creme brulee!!! Every time we see it on a menu, my husband looks over at me to see my eye roll reaction! I feel like screaming every time I see it on a menu!

                                    3. On behalf of goats everywhere, I'd like to object to goat cheese being labled a fad.

                                      1. sun dried tomatoes, pesto, goat cheese, avocado still remain on my tried & true list

                                        hummus altho a fav has taken on so many incarnations, I'm a doubting shopper and continue to make my own

                                        fresh figs, fig products have gotten their day in the sun (so to speak)

                                        but the deliciousness continues!

                                        1. one thing I'm tired of is spelling and pronouncing caramelized as "carmelized"

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: budlit

                                            Carmel is a lovely small city in California with the accent on a different syllable than what people call what happens to sugar when it's heated. <scream>

                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                              People who fall in love with Carmel become Carmel-ized, but cooked onions become caramelized.;-) But, there was a restaurant there many years ago that I liked called Creme Carmel.

                                              Anyway, on the way, if not already, mojitos. And close behind margaritas, lemon drops and any other drinks mix that Stirrings makes.

                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                I love Carmel and I love caramel too!

                                            2. tiramisu
                                              lave cakes- agreed Emma!
                                              creme brulee-god I hate this stuff
                                              low carb baked goods.

                                              RACHEL RAY!- 14:55 and I'm waiting for it to implode.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Kelli2006

                                                LOL, I think tiramisu has been out for so long that it's time it makes a come back as a retro dessert!

                                                1. re: Kelli2006

                                                  Good lord, I SO agree with you on RR

                                                2. What's the matter with any of these items mentioned in this thread, per se? If they are delicious, and you enjoy eating them, why should it matter if they are a fad or not?

                                                  I eat sun dried tomatoes, goat cheese, pomegranates, meyer lemons and other things mentioned in this thread often. And even though there's a lot of fried calamari and creme brulee out there, I still appreciate well executed versions of these items.

                                                  It's all about how well something is done, not how ubiquitous it is, or burgers and pizza wouldn't be two of our national dishes.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: farmersdaughter

                                                    Nothing wrong with any of those things. In fact, there's sooooo much right with so many of the wonderful classics and basic foodstuffs. Until the heavyhanded get ahold of them, and then the food writers, and then the marketers. Then the stuff gets "democratized," then sadly "bastardized," until no one recognizes it any more. There's not a thing wrong with food evolving but I keep expecting to see chipotle pepper creme brulée at TGI Friday's.

                                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                                      Friday's won't put anything on the menu if it doesn't have Jack Daniels on it. So, it would be a Jack Danels/chipotle pepper creme brulee.

                                                    2. re: farmersdaughter

                                                      Also, when something becomees a fad, restaurants almost feel obligated to put it on the menu whether it belongs there or not. Walk into a restaurant in 1998 and there were 3 different pestos offered, and none of them were the basil, pine nut, garlic option.

                                                      1. The one thing that seems to be the big new ingredient that is older than dirt is garum
                                                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garum, Italian, not asian fish sauce. I have seen it mentioned in various venues of late.

                                                        I do agree that food trendiness can ruin ones taste, no pun intended for certain foods, but like famersdaughter I will continue to eat many foods that are not "cool" anymore. I am ashamed to say, but in hormonal moment not long ago, I ate quite a few sundried tomatoes in olive oil, all by themselves.

                                                        1. Yeah too bad people got so suckered into paying 5 bucks for small jars of 30c worth of tomatos that you can dry in your oven for free.

                                                          1. Not to get too phillosophical, but...

                                                            I think everything in this country eventually gets de- contextualized by the media and the masses so the thing - in this case, great foods of the world - gets tossed about, detached from any sense of origin or meaning.

                                                            People start peppering chopped sun-dried tomatoes over basmati rice, smothering sun-dried tomato paste on Wonder Bread bologna sandwiches, and eating them cold, out of the fridge (read: congealed olive oil), alongside their Vlassic dill pickles. I could just picture the mamas in the Italian countryside weeping.

                                                            Maybe if we posted little "history of origin" notes on all foods the masses would respect these foods more and abuse less?

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: yumyumyogi

                                                              this group aside, america does not have a historical contextual culture of respecting food. it's always been cast in the role of fuel and sustenance, not for savoring and enjoying. now that super-sweet-super-sizing is the norm, i don't see that changing.

                                                            2. 36 replies and no one's mentioned foie gras yet?!?

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: MikeG

                                                                Stick a fork in that foie gras.....it's so totally done

                                                                1. re: cooknKate

                                                                  is something *done* when a city outlaws it? lol.

                                                              2. Pork belly and lard. Some things should not have pig in them.
                                                                Pomegranate. Somehow served for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
                                                                Designer mac 'n cheese. How many mac'n cheese restaurants in NYC now??
                                                                Green tea/matcha. When Starbucks turns it into a latte, you know it's overplayed.
                                                                No-knead bread.

                                                                Up'n coming:
                                                                Bahn mi. Just now breaking into public consciousness.
                                                                Asian-inspired desserts, like Kyotofu.
                                                                Savoury oatmeal (steel-cut, of course). The new grits.
                                                                Agar-agar - next big thing in the low-carb/diet world.

                                                                Wish list:
                                                                Seaweed, and not just nori. I wish it was easier to find in stores.
                                                                Alternative grains, like millet.
                                                                Ethiopean food.
                                                                Stuck-pot rice. So many possible variations.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: piccola

                                                                  I must stand up and (proudly) say I was way ahead of the curve on matcha and will continue to drink lots of it hot or iced no matter how much it becomes a hissing and a byword by foodies everywhere.
                                                                  And I don't sweeten or flavor it, ever. Except for green tea ice cream, that's a different and beautiful animal.

                                                                2. As someone who scans the aisles at Trader Joe's a lot, my choice is too easy:

                                                                  Ginger is the new sun-dried tomato.

                                                                  1. All the foods mentioned here as being "over" are just as good (or not good) as they ever were - if prepared well. The problem with overexposure is that the dishes deteriorate to the point that they no longer have any integrity and then - when you've had your last bite of godawful tiramisu or whatever - you think: "This is so disgusting I can't imagine why it was ever popular!" Same goes for ingredients - sun dried tomatoes show up where they have no right to be; pomegranates appear in all the wrong places; misplaced chipotles ruin an otherwise perfectly delicious dish. There is nothing wrong with hating creme brulee, but to say that it's "over" is just wrong. It's delicious when well prepared, using excellent ingredients and as part of an appropriate meal. It's stupid when you add trendoid ingredients to it just to make it more edgy. I may be a stuffy old stick in the mud, but I am a firm believer in context and integrity in food - and, for that matter, a little scarcity never hurt anything.

                                                                    I personally still love what a sun dried tomato can do, when used appropriately.

                                                                    1. A great read on this topic is Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads by Sylvia Lovegren, dealing with American culinary history in the 20th century. Published in 1995.
                                                                      Remember the ruination of the Quiche?
                                                                      Some of the Asian cooking in America sections should be of interest to many.
                                                                      This book is a riot! I'm sure a lot of what we're eating and talking about now will seem similar to future generations. The past 12 years would probably give her enough material for another complete volume.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                                                        I'm reading it right now, in fact, and it is indeed fascinating! I love the section on Chinese food. And I love reading all the old recipes that ended with "add a dollop of mayonnaise on top." Didn't matter what it was. LOL

                                                                      2. Chipotles and chipotle-flavored food - just a few years ago, I'd wager most average people couldn't even pronounce it correctly. Now, you can get Chicken Fingers at Wendys with Chipotle sauce.

                                                                        Last year, the Wall Street Journal published an article about up and coming flavors and how they enter the mainstream. If I remember correctly, they used chipotles as an example and listed some unusual flavors as up and comers. I *think* lavender or musk were mentioned.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: swissgirl

                                                                          >> Chipotles and chipotle-flavored food - just a few years ago, I'd wager
                                                                          >> most average people couldn't even pronounce it correctly.

                                                                          They still can't. I wish I had a nickel for each time I heard someone say "chip-pole-tay"!. (I could retire young if I tivo'd dear lil Sandra Lee...)

                                                                          I agree that chipotle flavors/ingredients are at 13:45 or so. I'd add anything that's on the Cheesecake Factory's appetizer menu (mini burgers, pot stickers, thai lettuce wraps, ahi tempura rolls?!?).

                                                                          And I'm hoping that sous-vide cooking is going to die a quick death.


                                                                          1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                            "They still can't. I wish I had a nickel for each time I heard someone say "chip-pole-tay"!. "

                                                                            Amen! and add "mar-sca-pone".

                                                                        2. As much as I love tea, I'm annoyed at how it's showing up in everything. Not because it necessarily tastes good, but because it's so good for you that it must be added to every baked good and chocolate bar.

                                                                          And speaking of chocolate, I'm over the chocolates that are being sold as "health food" because they have various herbs, antioxidants and whatnot added to them. Just let chocolate be candy!

                                                                          1. Seared foie gras seems to be the big fad here that needs to end. The whole small plates fad is getting old too. Not every restaurant needs to have a tapas style menu. Sometimes I'd like to order just one entree and not share.

                                                                            I still regularly eat goat cheese and truffle oil can be good when used appropriately.

                                                                            1. I think the chili/chocolate mixture (aside from mole negro) is headed for its 15 minutes of overexposure.

                                                                              1. Foam
                                                                                The new CH board.
                                                                                Grass feed meat

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: FAL

                                                                                  Hope you're right about grass fed beef.

                                                                                  1. re: danna

                                                                                    they are ruminants and are supposed to eat grass. feeding them grain is a very recent development, and is an unnatural and unhealthful diet for them.

                                                                                2. I'm getting kind of tired of ingredients with a detailed provenance of any kind, but that along with recipe-length menu entries (and specials recitations) has been with us since the late 70s and alas, probably isn't going anywhere any time soon....

                                                                                    1. Yeah, that's makes me really nervous YumYumYogi.

                                                                                      But chilies with chocolate should never out of style! A bit of chili really brings out the flavor of dark chocolate.

                                                                                      Wasabi itself is definitely a fad! Williams-Sonoma even has Wasabi-Green Tea scented dish soap now. The stuff that they serve in most restaurants is not even real Wasabi, it's a similar horseradish dyed green. You can sometimes get fresh wasabi if you ask for it!

                                                                                      1. I think maple, ginger, and coconut are all going to be big soon, and alternative grains (couscous, brown rice, quinoa). Middle Eastern and Ethiopian food too. And rice pudding is about to be the next trendy dessert.

                                                                                        What's on it's way out: Mac & Cheese, acai if it was ever truly in, pomegranate (thank god...most of the fun of eating a pomegranate is the texture), mango.

                                                                                        1. No one mentioned Saki? I see all the former Cosmopolitan drinkers ordering Saki now, which has got to be a sign that it's at least hit the 12:00 mark.

                                                                                          1. "Energy Drinks" need to go away.


                                                                                            Here's some Sun Dried Tomato love.

                                                                                            1. I can't wait until bacon stops being in absolutely everything. On the other hand, I will be sad when kale and Brussels sprouts are no longer in the spotlight.

                                                                                              1. They never tasted like tomatoes.( Hell even tomatoes don't taste like tomatoes except for when you buy heirlooms from the guy at the farmers market. Even then his crop is sold out in a few weeks.) The seeds were bitter. The skins were inedible. We were once again 'sheepeople' who were sold something we thought it was 'cool' to buy.

                                                                                                1. For me, not so much specific food but TERMS! Deconstructed, depth of flavor, fusion, sous vide... list goes on and on.

                                                                                                  1. I eat what tastes good to me. Some of the items above I tasted and rejected; others are permanent fixtures in my kitchen. But without their one-time trendiness I would not have known about them or been able to try them and purchase them in my city. Ingredients I could only read about or internet-order are now readily available.
                                                                                                    Probably not a big deal for the "coastals" who live where most food trends originate but great for people like me.
                                                                                                    As for foods overstaying their welcomes: when I'm tired of eating something, I stop eating it.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: Pwmfan

                                                                                                      So beautifully, simply explained and I feel exactly the same way. So thank you, for offering your point of view.

                                                                                                    2. I'm surprised to see that the OP is now six years old. I think pomegranate is even more popular than ever. I'm sick of seeing it in everything.

                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: gmm

                                                                                                        no no, gmm...it's Greek yogurt...it's turning up as nuggets in breakfast cereal....how can that be a good thing?!

                                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                          Is that the Total Blueberry Pomegranate cereal, that has no blueberries and no pomegranate in it?

                                                                                                        2. re: gmm

                                                                                                          I am surprised at how popular many of these items still are, even though the post is six years old. Pork belly seems to be more popular than ever, as does foam, foie gras, spicy chocolate, mac and cheese, beets, cupcakes, etc. It's been fun to reread this list.

                                                                                                        3. octopus... every california-mediterranean place has an octopus dish!

                                                                                                          microgreens. 9 bucks a pack for bland, itty bitty greens that have crappy shelf life?

                                                                                                          pork belly. shine some light on the JOWLS!!!

                                                                                                          ps i love to snack on turkish sundried tomatoes, just as-is. it's like tomato jerky!