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The latest trend? Unlikely predictions


According to the prognosticators at the Food Channel, we can expect to see unusual meats — they’re calling them “meats out of the mainstream” — on our tables this year.

So, bison, lamb and some sort of ultra-fancy pork called Mangalitsa ($74.95 for 2.6 pounds of cured meat) are all coming down the pike this year. Maybe.

It is notoriously difficult to predict the future, but that doesn’t stop people from guessing what the biggest trends of the year will be. The folks at the Food Channel, which is sometimes known as “the one that isn’t the Food Network,” looked at the venison sandwiches that were successfully tried out at a few Arby’s restaurants and the lamb burgers being served at various burger restaurants and decided that we are ripe for an onslaught of unusual meats.

That is one of the 10 trends they are predicting. And I’m not sure I buy all the others, either.

The Food Channelers suggest that we might soon get to experience a wide variety of new cuisines. Not cuisines from places we haven’t heard of before — are there any such places left? — but rather specific subregions.

Hawaiian food from one island, rather than another. Seafood from along the coast of Baja California that is specifically cooked over a fire (apparently, Chicago restaurant guru Rick Bayless opened just such a place). Food from Appalachia.

That’s right, the experts at the Food Channel think the food of Appalachia differs in some significant way from the food of the South. Perhaps they have never been to Appalachia. Or the South.

The same team of possibly one expert predicts that 2017 will see a decrease in the amount of food wasted at restaurants. The actual phrase used was “no more waste,” but let’s give them the benefit of a doubt because this prediction makes some sense.

When restaurants discard unwanted food that has been served but not eaten, or when they toss out ingredients that have gone bad, they are essentially throwing out money. Restaurants have a hard enough time staying in business anyway without dumping profits into the trash can.

The Food Channel story notes that chefs have become interested in using the entire animal or vegetable ever since the channel first predicted this trend in 2012 (never mind that chefs have been doing it for centuries). What’s new is a formula developed at the University of Missouri that can help restaurants such as buffets (which typically experience the largest amount of waste) throw away less food.

Another prediction says we can look forward to restaurants creating condiments out of items that are usually ingredients in a main dish.

In other words, we usually think of condiments as being such things as ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and salsa. But this year, according to the Food Channelers, we may begin to see, say, grilled chicken with a selection of fresh herbs to be used as condiments.

And the Food Channel experts note that Mango Pickle, a restaurant in Chicago, uses coconut and pickled vegetables as condiments, though coconut and pickled vegetables have long been Indian condiments. And not that it lessens the potential accuracy of the predictions, but Mango Pickle is so new it had only been open for two weeks when the Food Channel made its prognostications.

The experts also guess that we will be seeing a layering of trends. We won’t be content merely to have ingredients sourced from farm to table or that remind us of our childhoods or that follow trendy diet plans — we’ll want it all at once. We’ll have gluten-free comfort food meatloaf pork from the Niman Ranch served with artisanal ketchup.

Home-cooked or fancy-prepared pet food will be big this year, they say, and so will occasion dining. That is, eating meals with friends or family to celebrate a special occasion rather than just eating breakfast, lunch or dinner. As the Food Channel experts say, “Thanksgiving used to be all about the food. Now it’s about wanting to be together with friends and family.”

Oh, brave new world that has such ideas in it.

And finally, they make this bold prediction: Good will be the new “new.” We’re getting tired of wanting to try things just because they are new, the Food Channel says. In 2017, we’ll be interested in trying food because it’s actually good. It’s a crazy thought, but it just might work.


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