“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well”, said Virginia Woolf in A Room of One’s Own
The author certainly knew what she was talking about and good food is indeed a source of comfort much more than a matter of sustenance. By the end of 2018, the Forbes Magazine published its food trends for this year and it comes as no surprise that the celebrity chefs who predicted this year’s trends spoke highly of fusion food. Now, culinary fusion has been around for a long time but the level of innovation and creativity that we are now witnessing is unprecedented.
Chefs at prominent restaurants across the globe are now picking up health food and combining them with traditional foods to come up with delectable dishes. The Ooty Restaurant on Baker Street, for example, serves South Indian food. One of their dishes Kid Goat Sukka is a very traditional entree which combines tender goat meat with decadent south Indian spices. At Ooty it is served with spinach and artichoke uttappam. Uttappams are rice and lentil pancakes and spinach and artichoke are almost never used in combination with it back in India. The result, however, is absolutely astounding and delicious. Their other dishes – the venison dosa (Chettinad Dosa), Seabass Moilee served with broad bean quinoa, chives, and crispy squid, and Almond and Pea cake served with crispy pepper asparagus and wasabi chutney – all reflect the high level of innovation that the chefs at Ooty have brought to our platter. Most Indian restaurants in London follow suit with this trend of incorporating flavours from across the globe. The incredible variety offered by Indian food and the versatility of the dishes offer them space to add new flavours and play around, to our benefit.
Moving on to other innovations and trends that are now featured across the globe, let us take a look at seafood. Hundreds of varieties of fishes, shrimps, lobsters, crabs, clams, mussels, and oysters – we have always been spoilt for choice when it comes to seafood. The growing number of vegetarian and vegan diners, however, have led chefs to innovate and add a number of seaweeds and sea plants such as kelp to the menu. From adding Nori salt as a seasoning to plating up amazing seaweed and tofu beignets, chefs are waking up to a new era in which wakame, arame, kelp, and hijiki are global foods of choice.
Apart from food innovations and new additions to your palate, watch out for a new brand of food activism much needed for us and for our environment. Enter Imperfect Produce or Ugly Produce. As important as plating and presentation is, food innovation trends have now started to include the “ugly”, imperfect looking produce that traditionally never left the farms. Not only are these fresh and good produce but are sometimes less expensive. The next time you find Imperfect Produce on your restaurant menu, embrace the change and be part of the new food culture.
Almost a third of the global population are opting to consume less animal products and more dairy free, plant and cell-based foods. This translated into plant-based mayo and dressings, almond flour, coconut milk, and legumes and pulses-based protein foods. Look forward to a number of such innovative additions to your menu and also to your palate in the time to come. The next time you find non-dairy cheese, seitan alternatives to pastrami and vegan “beef” burgers, try them out. Not only are they tastier and healthier but are also much better for the environment.
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