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What are YOUR predictions for 2012 food trends?

So people are making their predictions everywhere. Seriouseats has their list, chow has some of their guesses, even my local paper is taking some guesses. But I want to know what the Hounds think! Here are some of mine:

Beets! I think theyre gonna have a boom this year. already seen them making appearances this season

Almonds. Especially marcona. theyre delicious, healthier, and make fantastic nut butter

Cinnamon Rolls. Theyre sweet, yeasty, gooey, and endlessly adaptable.

Scones. like cupcakes, can be made sweet or savory, and are fast, easy, and delicious

Farro. Again, very versatile, and a good change from rice and pasta

Downfall of some trends: I think its about time for cupcakes and gourmet grilled cheese to go about their merry way. In their place: ice cream and dressed-up grits, respectively.

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  1. Beets? I happen to love them but a friend commented the other night as we tried a new restaurant "aren't we done with beets yet?" as there were multiple beet options on the menu. Beets were the food trend of about 2007 and have yet to disappear.

    8 Replies
    1. re: ferret

      Why should something as basic as basic as beets disappear or appear? They've always been there, perhaps the spotlight wasn't on them. The same goes for lettuce, peas, potatoes or bread.

      1. re: Wawsanham

        I'm not suggesting they should disappear, just that the focus on beets as a "food trend" is behind us. It's a pretty ubiquitous ingredient - not as much as in Eastern Europe, but hard to consider as an underutilized item.

        1. re: ferret

          well... ive never cooked with them before and have only eaten them a handful of times. so they might be a new food trend in my house!

          1. re: ferret

            I agree, ferret. Where I am (which is not in eastern Europe) they're a common item on restaurant menus and, of course, similarly readily available in the supermarkets.

        2. re: ferret

          You can look at Top Chef from last week, where they said something to the effect of beets being over and done with. I happen to really like beets, but I see them all the time on menus, and I'd like to see something else get highlighted. Cinnamon rolls would be a tasty dessert on-the-go to replace cupcakes, they'd get my vote. Farro, amaranth, and buckwheat would be three great carbs to go to after quinoa. Granted, I've been eating quinoa for about.... 12 years, but again, seeing it everywhere on menus gets old.

            1. re: melpy

              I really like the nutty flavor quinoa has, but then again, I always cook it in vegetable broth so I'm not tasting it in it's unadulterated form.

              1. re: melpy

                With you on that. My son loves it.

          1. I realize this thread is about trends, but if you (or a lot of people) like certain foods, can't they be on menus all the time--can't they just become "common and traditional". What's wrong with that even if some people get bored? Might it be that one of the problematic attitudes and approaches Americans have to food--which has lead to all kinds of pernicious consequences--is this demand for everything to constantly to change and be new? What about cherishing one's own food cultures?

            1. Comments about one's own preferences or experiences are not really what this topic is about, seems to me. This is about trendiness more than actual trends: where's the buzz? You'll probably never get any Southerner over fifty to eat a beet, much less like them, but even in Nashville the beet salad is on trendy-place menus, as it is out here in SoCal. And I'll not tire of it, nor will Mrs. O, but I think as a trendy thing it's had its moment. As for what else is over, I think bacon and pork belly will settle into simply being ingredients where they're appropriate; much as I adore bacon, I'll not be sorry to see it stop being so overused.

              I'm looking for new vegetables, or new interest in heirloom varieties of potatoes, corn, rice, the cabbages and their relatives. As humane food animal practices become more common, and one hopes the norm, some meats we've been avoiding because of abusive handling practices, such as veal, should regain their old popularity. As more people take up animal farming and respectfully-raised meat becomes more widely available, I believe this will help to tilt the market enough to make the factory farmers and the big packers see this as a bandwagon they need to get on. I do NOT expect to see humanely-raised Berkshire boneless pork loin on sale for $3/lb, but I do expect to see the meat in Ralphs' meat case, at a price the occasional carnivore can afford. Oh, and I also expect to see more occasional carnivores, both former veggies who gave up meat on humane grounds and committed omnivores who are finding more attractive non-meat options.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Will Owen

                I agree with you, Will, about the heirloom vegetables. The great success (and exposure) that Sean Brock has been enjoying should help push the trend. Moreover, it's one worth lauding.

                I similarly find your related thoughts concerning the gastronomical opportunities arising out of changes in acceptable animal farming methods to be on the right track. It's not hard to see how both of these potential food trends are arising from a fundamental, and welcome, shift in the zeitgeist. Growing distrust in the motives and products of massive, international corporations is perhaps most recognizable when people make choices about what they put on their plates.

                1. re: MGZ

                  I do "trust" the motives of those guys, however much I fail to share them. I trust them to keep an eye on which way the market is heading and to assure their own continuing survival and success by co-opting the new practices. Okay, if we have to treat the pigs nice, dammit, we will. Let'em run and play. Just make sure it gets plenty of publicity.

                  I haven't bought any Niman Ranch products since Bill Niman got forced out and his practices, if not dropped, then seriously compromised. But I'm still pretty sure that those animals are treated better than the ones at Harris Ranch or any of Farmer John's suppliers.

                2. re: Will Owen

                  I'm a southerner over fifty, and I like beets!

                  1. re: Cliocooks

                    My sincerest congratulations! What I encountered most often during my 27 years in Nashville was the attitude expressed by a man at the plate-lunch counter of an H.G. Hill store and the server: "What's THAT?" "Them's beets." "People eat them?" "Not me, man, they're just nasty!" "So why ya got'em?" "Boss said so, but they ain't movin'." "He from somewheres else?" "Chicago!" "Figures." So of course I had to have some, along with the fried chicken and some mac'n'cheese. Pickled ones weren't uncommon, but plain cooked and buttered beets were thin on the ground. I'm sure that has changed a bit; I get a daily email posting from Miel, a restaurant in Nashville that grows most of its produce, and they frequently have beets on the menu.

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      I like roasting and pickling beets, but the darn things are expensive and stain everything they get near.

                  2. re: Will Owen

                    Are we talking the application of beets, such as in a beet and goat cheese starter out of a cylinder, as an ethnic staple such as borscht, or just as is?

                  3. Farro, quinoa and pie. Also, as a flavor, orgeat.

                    1. Restaurants in 2011 went to pork belly to be trendy and yet offer a good price point. Consumers went for it. 2012 will be the year of "sausage cuisine--"boutique sausages made in-house and served with European sides. (Especially with pasta.) I agree that cupcakes have run their course and will be replaced by rustic breads---served with sausage.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Leper

                        You may be on to something there with the sausages. Where I live there is a new restaurant by a major restauranteur in an up and coming neighborhood that focuses on in-house sausages. If that's not an indicator of a new trend, I don't know what is. The force behind this restaurant did steakhouse before that was trendy, gastropub before that was trendy, comfort food before that was trendy, etc.

                        1. re: gaffk

                          And sausage is something that offers the cooks room for creativity and pride in a house-made product without having to write a HACCP plan to do cured meats. Fresh sausage is a safe, easy, quick form of charcuterie, and charcuterie in general has been increasingly popular the last few years. Plenty of chefs would love to cure and hang their own prosciutto, coppa cola, etc. but time, space, and the health department are major obstacles.

                        2. re: Leper

                          Interesting sausage comment. I was going to say it appears meatballs are blowing up everywhere. People seem to be bored with sliders and burgers are burgers, but I keep seeing meatballs popping up on menus. The thing with gourment meatballs, is that they can be served alone or within other dishes. There is also so many varieties of meats that can be used.

                          1. re: jhopp217

                            I just can't see the meatball thing at all. Far less interesting than a slider or burger, at least those one can put topping, such as cheese, but put something in a meatball? Just seems really mundane. That is not to be critical of the poster, rather just the way I see it.

                            I guess, all I can see about the meatball is how it utterly failed in The Great Next Restaurant reality show that Bobby Flay did. In the end folks said," but it's just a meatball. "

                            1. re: Quine

                              i think meatballs are pretty variable. you can make them from any meat you can form into a ball, you can top them with any sauce, you can flavor them with any spice, stuff them with anything small enough to wrap some ground meat around (or just use enough ground meat to wrap whatever you want to stuff in it) serve them on a sandwich, on a grain or pasta, on pizza, chopped or whole...

                        3. trends...

                          Unadorned fruit conserves. Forget the additions of herbs or jalapeno. The sought-after quality will be the fruit itself, its heirloom variety, even "terroir".

                          Wheat-free four mixes. For too long, gluten-free baking has been a sad gummy substitute. Now, many talented chefs are taking the challenge to create delicious breads and pastries with Teff flour, amaranth, coconut flour, etc. Mainstream foodies will enjoy these novel flavors and textures.

                          more fresh ginger juice in beverages.

                          Box graters instead of electric food processors.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: val ann c

                            i would almost say that gluten-free baking has been on the upswing already. i think it kind of hitched a ride with cupcakes on their way up to the top

                          2. I agree with posters who said beets are a "trend" that needs to stop. When I saw your Cinnamon buns, I thought, has this guy never been in a Mall ever? Cinnabons, so over franchised that they are fading fast.
                            For me I think trending will be home craft (or in house) of traditional foods, such as already mentioned sausages, but also fermented foods, kim chi, sauerkraut, pickles, House crafted sodas with flavors made in house and then carbonated.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: Quine

                              saying that cinnamon buns are trendy because of cinnabon is like saying that burgers are trendy because there are mcdonalds everywhere.

                              1. re: mattstolz

                                YMMV.

                                What I did say however is that I think that like beets, they are a trend that has past.

                                I also think Korean food will start to trend as more people discover Korean BBQ, banchan and soju.

                                1. re: Quine

                                  i hope youre right on korean bbq! dang i love that stuff and its so hard to find around here

                                  1. re: mattstolz

                                    Yes, same here in South NJ. I do know that due to the industry mega corporations like Samsung, South Korea is trying to trend tourism and introduction of Korean culture and foods to the rest of the world. I you don't mind reading subtitles there is a fantastic Korean series called Gourmet (it a multi episode drama) that will positively having you constantly drool over the food scene. You can watch it on Hulu.com,

                                    1. re: Quine

                                      Quine, for great Korean food, try Cherry Hill!

                                      1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                        Oh I know go to H Mart and I have been to the restaurant above it, which, to me is just OK.

                                      2. re: Quine

                                        Grill on the table BBQ has been around for years; just mostly in, well, Korean neighborhoods.

                                2. re: Quine

                                  I think you are on to something with the fermented/pickled foods. Have been gifted with 3 examples over the past month, yum.

                                3. I hope The Chew had it wrong when they predicted that the marshmallow would replace the cupcake. Can you imagine marshmallow shops busting out all over the place like cupcakes have?

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: monavano

                                    oh me too. i love marshmallows as much as the next guy, but that would just not be cool

                                    1. re: monavano

                                      Nope just read an article about Gourmet marshmallows. And as I recall it was in the Food Network's rag mag, But just like salted caramels that popped up in everything and uber expensive flavored/sourced salt, it will be a food/yuppie metro trend.

                                      1. re: Quine

                                        At Christmas my MIL had several flavored marshmellows- they were not gourmet, but grocery shelf- Gingerbread and Mint Chocolate- neither which I could bring myself to try.

                                        Making homemade marshmellows is on my to-do list- maybe I will have to concoct a great new flavor.

                                        1. re: brilynn79

                                          admittedly, homemade marshmallows are MUCH better than store bought. however, a marshmallow store would be overkill for sure

                                          1. re: mattstolz

                                            There is a Peep store not too far from me in a very touristy area. They seem to be staying afloat. Basically a really gross marshmallow store.

                                            1. re: tcamp

                                              The Peep store is probably more of a retail advertisement than an actual income source, kind of like the Hershey store in Times Square.

                                            2. re: mattstolz

                                              Do a Google search for Gourmet marshmallows and see what pops up!.

                                          2. re: Quine

                                            I fell for the gourmet salt trend. I still have a couple salts I don't know what to do with! Feh, I'm sticking with Kosher ;-)

                                        2. Brussels sprouts on the stalk will vanquish other veggie pretenders to the throne.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Veggo

                                            We can only hope. And I bet they are roasted with homemade truffle oil.

                                            1. re: Quine

                                              Lately I'm lathering them with molten duck fat and roasting the whole stalk of them, with kosher salt, 350 for 28 minutes. I'm amazed how good they are, and how simple.

                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                I have to try this. It never occurred to me to roast the whole stalk, but I love them individually roasted.

                                          2. I think meatballs are becoming the new pulled pork.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: plasticanimal

                                              Made a comment before seeing this. I think Meatballs will blow up in 2012....they started to in the very end of 2011

                                              1. re: plasticanimal

                                                They're already on the scene and I'm on the fence about it. I can see it turning into "gentrifying" what is a peasant dish-- cheap and soul-nourishing, and yuppifying with a high price tag, as if I should be honored to pay big bucks for what I can easily (and I mean easily) make at home.
                                                If it is done, I say, do it right. Otherwise, no thanks, I can make at least a dozen versions off the top of my head.
                                                In DC:

                                                http://www.washingtonpost.com/gog/res...

                                                1. re: monavano

                                                  Mmmm . . . pheasant meatballs.

                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                    Found this snippet:
                                                    :In January 2010 Bon Appetit revealed their foodie trends for 2010 - are they (BonAppetit) the trend setter or the prophet for what's hot on America's plates? Bon Appetit said "With a return to homey, comforting cooking this year, meatballs made it big, appearing on restaurant menus and kitchen tables everywhere. They're affordable, easy to make, absolutely delicious - and have inspired cooks from all over the world." Bon Appetite, January 2010, pg 59."

                                                    from this article: http://studio5.ksl.com/index.php?nid=...

                                                    Seems that meatballs trended out and now is rolling back down the hill.

                                                2. • Nearly everyone will become gluten intolerant (rolling eyes)
                                                  • Meatballs
                                                  • Locally sourced products
                                                  • Eastern European will start to trend in Peruvian already is
                                                  • Ramen will be big
                                                  • Charcuterie will make a comeback
                                                  • More offal on menus
                                                  • Home cooking of gourmet meals will surge
                                                  • Food trucks will continue to grow
                                                  • Trendy salts will explode
                                                  • Donuts will be the new cupcake
                                                  • Sustainable fishing will be a new buzzword (seafood csa anyone)
                                                  • Homemade cheeses

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: RetiredChef

                                                    i would say several of these (local products, ramen, charcuterie, offal, salts especially) have already become pretty big. but i also think several of these will continue to grow as well

                                                    1. re: mattstolz

                                                      I agree and should have been more precise, "grow to an even greater level."

                                                      For example there are chains that are working on promoting local sourced products and I just saw 10 different salts being put on a low end grocers shelf just a few days ago. And I just had dinner at a non-foodies house and they offered two different salts on their table.

                                                      And where I live Ramen is not big and offal meats are hardly seen but we have two restaurants in town making homemade charcuterie.

                                                      1. re: mattstolz

                                                        Agreed. WF now has a "salt" bar, gee wow I can pay $8 or more for trendy salt.

                                                        I do think some new "allergen" will surface because the gluten folks are becoming so common.

                                                        I am see a larger influence of raw foods, so that may expand out of the So Calif area.

                                                      2. re: RetiredChef

                                                        >> Trendy salts will explode
                                                        I love the image of trendy salts exploding.

                                                        >> Nearly everyone will become gluten intolerant (rolling eyes)
                                                        I wish I could roll my eyes at gluten intolerance. Wheat makes me ill. I would like nothing better than to eat like normal folk.

                                                        >> Food trucks will continue to grow.
                                                        I hope so! Also, enterprising prepared food producers will continue to launch their businesses out of farmers markets.

                                                        1. re: val ann c

                                                          Val,

                                                          My comments about gluten intolerance comes from 30+ years in the industry and watching all forms of trendy diseases or intolerances creep into the eating public. It is NOT meant to belittle those who truly are inflicted but instead to belittle those who claim they are afflicted falsely.

                                                          http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-real-di...

                                                          ""It's becoming extremely fashionable to the point that it's almost alarming," says Dr. Stefano Guandalini, founder and director of the Celiac Disease Center at the University of Chicago. He and other gluten gurus say most people on gluten-free diets don't actually need to be: they've either jumped on the bandwagon or misdiagnosed themselves as gluten-sensitive"

                                                          According to the CDC the chance of someone being gluten intolerant is about 1 in 245, however in a recent AMA study showing disease trends among Americans 1 in 18 are claiming to be gluten intolerant. That means out of 14 out of 245 people are claiming they have this yet empirical studies say only 1 does.

                                                          "A recent survey by market-research firm Packaged Facts showed that only 8% to 12% of people who purchased gluten-free products did so because of gluten intolerance. Most simply thought these products were healthier or of higher quality or could help them manage their weight."
                                                          http://www.time.com/time/magazine/art...

                                                          Trendy diseases come and go and I remember the following food related ones in my restaurants very clearly:

                                                          Lactose intolerance
                                                          Strawberry allergy
                                                          Tomato allergy
                                                          MSG intolerance

                                                          It's just something you learn to deal with but I tend to (roll my eyes) at a regular patron who is allergic to strawberries one year yet gorging themselves on them the next.

                                                          1. re: RetiredChef

                                                            RetiredChef,
                                                            Thanks for the explanation. It makes me think of the years when fats were the big evil, so we were subjected to all sorts of fat-free concoctions.

                                                        2. re: RetiredChef

                                                          Good list. My thoughts:

                                                          - Ubiquitous gluten intolerance: agreed.

                                                          - Meatballs: agreed

                                                          - Local: sort of a trend already. I see this more holding steady this year.

                                                          - Eastern European: I sort of doubt it

                                                          - Ramen: I thought that was big like 3 years ago

                                                          - Charcuterie: Lord, I hope so. But I'm calling that as the trend of, maybe, 2015. Too soon. Let people get sick of meatballs first.

                                                          - More offal: Probably, though I think this is a trend already, and will just continue to pick up steam

                                                          - Home gourmet cooking: Probably not so much as a trend

                                                          - Food trucks - yep, this trend will continue

                                                          - Trendy salts - strikes me as a trend that mostly played out a few years ago

                                                          - Donuts replace cupcakes: I think slices of layer cake are more likely. People dig their cake

                                                          - Sustainable fishing: No big trend this year. More buzz somewhere between 2013 and 2016 when it is announced that the wild bluefin tuna is effectively extinct

                                                          - Homemade cheeses: sounds nice, but I doubt it. Not enough buzz currently for something involved like cheesemaking to take off yet. Maybe in a few years.

                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                            Any thoughts on Peruvian replacing Brazilian Rodizio as the go-to South American cuisine? Peruvian encompasses fresh seafood, asian influences, as well as african spices. Can't say enough about roasted rotisserie peruvian style chicken if you are lucky to be near one.

                                                        3. The trend that cannot end too soon....the "soft egg" added to many dishes. Blech, blech, blech.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                            I don't know how many times I've heard that the ability to make an omelette correctly is the penultimate benchmark of a good chef. Even as a home cook, I'd argue that one 'til the cows come home. But, I will say, making a good poached egg is even more tantamount to not screwing up a dish, and it's exceedingly rare.
                                                            That, and keep your quail and duck eggs off my food ;-)

                                                          2. Harissa will steal some of sriracha's thunder. Totally different items, but both hot sauces that have a variety of uses and I've seen more and more mentions of harissa lately.

                                                            Have cake pops already peaked?

                                                            Offal on more menus, not just those considered "trendy" or "foodie"

                                                            Scotch

                                                            Korean food in general becoming more mainstream. It exists in most cities, but IME is mostly consumed by Koreans, other Asians, and people who are super into trying different cuisines. I predict it moving more to the level of Thai or Indian, cuisines that plenty of people go out for and isn't seen as overly exotic.

                                                            With offal becoming more acceptable to the mainstream, I predict the extreme eaters will start moving towards insects.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: mira_r

                                                              Let's hear it for harissa! I've used the dry mixture, but I really love the paste. My favorite one is the French Le Cabanon ("En Tube!"). Got six tubes from an Amazon affiliate to save money on the shipping, but neglected to refrigerate them. Bad move; used two of them, went to open a third, and they'd all started fermenting and burst through the bottoms. What a mess!

                                                              My favorite use was to mix it with olive oil or mayonnaise and spread that on lamb chops, pork chops or chicken thighs and then roast them. Quite delicious.

                                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                                I've noticed flash restaurants using seasonal ingredients that would have been considered 'cheap' not too long ago: brassicas, bony, oily and fiddly seafood, apples...
                                                                I predict the ascent of the potato in all it's multihued and multipurpose glory. Spuds are probably "so last week" in the US though!

                                                                1. re: Will Owen

                                                                  I'm seeing peri-peri making a big push especially on rotisserie chicken concepts.

                                                              2. The move towards "local & seasonal" will continue.

                                                                The revival of "traditional" dishes will accelerate.

                                                                Reflecting immigration trends where I am, east European food will start to become more popular, with restaurants opening.

                                                                1. I posted this article in the Food media board.

                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/827416

                                                                  http://bites.today.msnbc.msn.com/_new...

                                                                  James Oseland of Saveur Magazine listed his top food trends of 2012. Some of the things predicted in this thread (like meatballs) are mentioned by him as being trends from 2011. So you guys are slow on the uptake! haha

                                                                  1. Buffalo wing - EVERYTHING. Meatballs, sliders, quiche, potato skins, pizza, tacos, lasagna, pot pie (actually that last one sounds pretty good).

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. Ethnic dining trends:

                                                                      The search to find the next non-Japanese, non-Chinese, non-Indian, non-Thai, non-Korean Asian food fad.

                                                                      Delving into America's working class heritage by looking at the food culture stemming from non-Mediterranean European countries and trying to modernize that.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                        I'm betting on Ethiopian. Anyone who's had good tibsi or wat with an authentic injera has immediately become addicted in my experience. Once people start fusioning injera wraps a whole new trend will start. Step up to the plate Marcus Sammuelson! :)

                                                                        1. re: Jzone

                                                                          Think American will get over the raw beef thing? Sushi is one thing, a ball of raw seasoned beef is another.

                                                                        2. Not food, but related, I see a couple of trends in spirits.
                                                                          High end Mezcal - Tequila’s cousin will start getting the respect it deserves.
                                                                          Local, small batch distilleries - hand crafted spirits reflecting regional styles could take off in late 2012, early 2013.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Alan Sudo

                                                                            I agree. I don't shop for liquor often, so when I went to the liquor store last week I was amazed at both the variety of flavors of spirits and the number of new, small producers. Recent changes to laws in WA have led to several new small distillers opening here, with tasting rooms. There is also new Mexican restaurant and 'mezcaleria' I've been wanting to try. People still drink in a lousy economy.

                                                                            1. re: Alan Sudo

                                                                              Alan, I hope you are right about Mezcal. My concern is that great small batch mezcals are produced in quantities too small for distribution in the U.S. , and large scale production will compromise quality. I have never found a great one more than 500 KM from Jalisco. It's one of those things you have to go to the source to get. So far.