food trends

Harbingers of Spring: The new crop of food words

image via Manjit Sangha

Nothing signals the change of season like the new crop of food words.
Each year around this time, the Oxford English Dictionary releases a list of new words that will be welcomed to its pages.

Come on; this is good stuff!
I see those eyes start to glaze over. I know what you’re thinking: epic word-nerdery. But it’s so much more than that.

As the definitive record of our language the OED is also our cultural barometer. A new food word isn’t just an expanded vocabulary— it signals a change in our appetites and tastes. Its inclusion tells us that the dish is served and the word is used commonly enough that it’s worthy of inking it in to the annals of history; at least in the estimation of the dictionary’s editors.

Drum roll, please.
This season’s crop shows our cultural interconnectedness, as we borrow freely from regional and world cuisines, from science and technology, pop cultural references, and urban slang:
Babycino. A drink of hot milk that has been frothed up with pressurized steam, intended for children.
Banh mi. A Vietnamese snack consisting of a baguette (traditionally baked with both rice and wheat flour) filled with a variety of ingredients, typically including meat, pickled vegetables, and chili peppers.
Chermoula. In North African cookery, a sauce or marinade for fish or meat, typically containing olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and cilantro.
Eton mess. A dessert consisting of a rough mixture of whipped cream, pieces of meringue, and fruit, typically strawberries.
Flat water. Ordinary tap or bottled drinking water, as opposed to sparkling water.
Flat white. A type of coffee made with espresso and hot steamed milk, but without the froth characteristic of a cappuccino.
Gremolata. A dressing or garnish made with chopped parsley, garlic, and grated lemon zest, served as an accompaniment to meat or fish.
Kleftiko. A Greek dish consisting of lamb marinated with lemon juice and herbs and cooked slowly in a sealed container.
Mac1. Macaroni, as in mac and cheese.
Momo. In Tibetan cooking, a steamed dumpling filled with meat or vegetables.
Nom nom. Used to express pleasure at eating, or at the prospect of eating, delicious food.
Pork bun. A Chinese snack consisting of steamed or baked bread dough filled with barbecued pork.
Pulled pork. Tender, slow-cooked pork that is pulled apart into pieces and often prepared with a barbecue sauce.
Rugelach. A bite-size cookie made with cream-cheese dough rolled around a filling of nuts, poppy seed paste, chocolate or jam.
Sammich. A sandwich.
Spiedie. An Italian-American dish consisting of marinated pieces of meat cooked on a skewer, and often served in a roll.
5-second rule (also 3- or 5-, etc.). The culinary rule that allows for the eating of a delicious morsel that has fallen to the floor, provided that it is retrieved within the specified period of time.

There is also a short-list of culinary terms that didn’t make the cut. Don’t call them rejects—the OED editors are keeping an eye on these for inclusion in future editions. These not-yet-words are languishing on 4″x6″ index cards, stored alphabetically in a vault in Oxford owned by the Oxford University Press. Really.
Dringle. The watermark left on wood caused by a glass of liquid.
Freegan. Someone who rejects consumerism, usually by eating discarded food.
Oninate. To overwhelm with post-dining breath.
Peppier. A server whose sole job is to offer diners ground pepper, usually from a large pepper mill.
Spatulate. To remove batter or dough from the side of a bowl with a spatula.

Posted in food knowledge, food trends | Tagged | 3 Comments

The Reasons for Rabbit

Always a bridesmaid.
It never seems to be rabbit’s turn. Chicken and pork have seats at the table, while rabbit, the other other white meat is a perennial third wheel.
Could this be the year that we fall in love? […]

Posted in food trends, sustainability | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Are Vending Machines the Next Big Thing?


We saw it happen to food trucks.
Those street corner fixtures, branded colloquially as ‘roach coaches,’ became food world darlings. Instead of withered hot dogs of questionable origins, suddenly you could find pastured-beef burgers on brioche buns, duck-filled dumplings, goat cheese cheesecake, and sustainably-harvested fish tacos. The jangly tune of a Mr. Softee truck was replaced by twitter tweets announcing truck locations and daily specials. Combining food-savvy, tech-savvy, and political correctness, a new breed of entrepreneurs elevated humble and much-maligned street food into a full-fledged culinary phenomenon. Are vending machines next? […]

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Bacon is Bigger than Oprah

image via The Republic of Bacon


Oprah’s got her following, and Charlie Sheen might be trending like crazy on Google right now, but bacon is still hanging on to its pop cultural currency.
It’s gone from buzz to frenzy to saturation, and still the bacon bubble hasn’t burst.
This is not a good thing. […]

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The Redemption of Lard


Pig fat is back.

Lard has spent the past few decades in the culinary cellar. It was one of America’s most reviled foods, keeping company with the likes of liver, sweetbreads, and anchovies. We recoiled from its fat profile, flinging epithets like lard ass and tub of lard.

The truth is, lard got a bad rap—all animal fats did. Now, as we rejigger our diets to rid them of trans fats, the time is right for a comeback for this great, misunderstood fat. […]

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Shoulder to Shoulder with Strangers: Dining at the communal table.

  image via The Publican


We tend to like our public dining experiences to be private.

The communal tables of school cafeterias and summer camps are in the past. As adults, we envelop the experience in an aura of privacy, seated with just our private party, at our own table, booth, or banquette. We seldom pay to eat a meal at a table alongside strangers. […]

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Fake Beef in Taco Ball Tacos. Why all the fuss?

A class action lawsuit was filed in federal court alleging that Taco Bell misleads its customers.

The lawsuit challenges Taco Bell’s practice of representing to consumers, on menus and in advertisements, that its restaurants serve beef-filled tacos and burritos. The lawsuit seeks to require Taco Bell to properly advertise and label food items, and to engage in a corrective advertising campaign to educate the public about what’s really in its food.

It seems that the filling in Taco Bell tacos and burritos contains just 36% beef, falling too far below the USDA definition to call itself ‘beef.’ According to the lawsuit, the other 64% of the filling is rounded out with water, isolated oat product, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch, sodium phosphate, and seasonings. […]

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Google’s Mad Crazy New Search Tool

image via Electronic Illusions


Have you checked out the new Google labs Ngram Viewer?
It’s either the greatest research tool since the Dewey Decimal System or the internet’s most colossal, pernicious time suck.

It takes the vast, digital library of Google Books and treats the content like data. Choose up to five words or phrases and the Ngram Viewer will graph their published appearance for any period in the last 200 years. Choose well and it can reveal an awful lot about trends, interests, and inclinations. […]

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The Year of Eating Dangerously


was not a year for the faint of heart.
We saw an environmental disaster of unprecedented scale devastate one of the country’s richest and most diverse food sheds. We watched college-aged kids get liquored-up and wired– simultaneously– as they flocked to a new breed of caffeine-laced alcoholic beverages. We were stunned by the scale of an egg recall that opened our eyes to a new set of factory farm horrors. And a bit of food news hit where it really hurts when Kaiser Permanente reported that the BPAs found in everything from Coke bottles to green bean cans are implicated in low sperm counts and overall poor semen quality.

Here they are: the disturbing trends, the troubling reports, the scandals, and the travesties that defined a year in food. […]

Posted in fast food, food safety, food trends | 1 Comment

What the Hay?

Is hay the newest darling of the food world?

Haute barnyard dining.
Hay keeps popping up on restaurant menus. Meats are roasted on beds of hay. Poultry is stuffed with it. Chefs are hay-smoking fish, tossing hay into stocks and sauces, and topping desserts with hay-infused whipped cream. […]

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Trend Watching 2011

image via Free Republic


It’s that time of year.

It’s the time when we look over the past twelve months and ahead to the next.
We make lists, savoring our favorite food moments of 2010, and identifying a few that are best left behind us. We try to see ahead of the curve, spotting the trends for 2011. […]

Posted in food business, food trends | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

My Life as a Foodie Carpetbagger

A girl’s gotta eat.

The economy has slowed, but not my appetite.
I’m not eating less, but I have made adjustments to what, where, and how I’m doing it.
I eat out less often and cook and entertain at home much more. I still want variety in my food and dining choices, but now my extravagances are more likely to be inventively prepared takeout and specialty grocery items.

Call me what you will: a carpetbagger, a profiteer, an opportunist. All I know is that with a little creativity, resourcefulness, and flexibility, the current economic climate can be a foodie’s salad days. […]

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Flavored Brews: Who Wants Beer that Tastes Like Beer?

Is flavored beer a venial sin against the beer gods?
Or is it an homage to a centuries-old European tradition?

The Belgians have their cherry- and berry-flavored lambics, and the British love their summertime citrus-lager shandies. The first wave of American craft brewers followed with seasonal fruit brews based on native ingredients like summer blueberry and autumn pumpkin beer. […]
Posted in beer + wine + spirits, food trends | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Can Korean Food Conquer America? Or is the kimchi too smelly?

Korean food is poised to be the next big thing.
For decades, Korean food has had few U.S. outposts, mostly in Hawaii and a few urban neighborhoods, while Chinese food went on to colonize the nation. But now we are in the midst of what’s been termed the Korean Wave, a global sweep of Korean arts and culture that has placed South Korea among the top ten of world cultural exporters; and its government is determined to push its cuisine into the leading ranks by 2017 with its food globalization plan.
But the kimchi is stinky. […]
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Gourmet. Upscale. Hot Dogs?

Hot Dog by Roy Lichtenstein

Fancy hot dogs have arrived.

It sounds like a contradiction in terms.
But it doesn’t have to be.

The so-called haute dogs don’t interest me.
These are the gimmicky, stunt dogs that are beloved by restaurant publicists; the can-you-top-this Kobe beef and foie gras concoctions that attract media attention for their outrageous pretensions and price tags, but that nobody really orders.

What does interest me are hot dogs that are elevated by virtue of careful preparation and quality ingredients; that bring freshness to the genre while hanging on to an essential hotdogginess. […]

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Meatball Madness

image via Hannah Whitaker/New York Magazine

We are having a meatball moment.

Of course meatballs never went out of style, but the homey, homely dish is downright stylish.

The meatball renaissance could have been predicted. As we turned to comfort foods to soothe our frazzled, modern souls, we’ve seen a parade of the familiar: fried chicken, cupcakes, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese—each has had its turn in the spotlight. Meatballs were inevitable. […]

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Food Courts Go Upscale


From this…..

… this


Posted in fast food, food trends | Tagged , | 4 Comments

When the Chosen People Choose Bacon


[image via Chan4Chan]

The current infatuation with all things bacon has even reached the Jews.

A delicatessen in New York sells a sandwich dubbed the conflicted Jew (bacon and chopped liver on challah), and a Queens bagel shop flecks its bagel dough with bacon.
A television ‘Top Chef’ creates a bacon-wrapped matzoh ball amuse bouche, while another Jewish celebrity chef instructs Jews to cook their Hanukkah latkes in bacon fat.

Bacon-loving Jews are running blogs like BBQ Jew, Bacon Jew and the Bacon Eating Jewish Vegetarian (how’s that for conflicted?!). There’s even a children’s book to explain it all (Baxter, The Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher). They’re not just eating it; they’re bacon overachievers.

The bacon awakening.

Sure, there have always been Jews who would eat certain pork products. It was a guilty pleasure usually reserved for dumplings and spare ribs in Chinese restaurants, and coffee shop BLTs. But this is different. Artisanal sausage, pork bellies and Spanish hams are flaunted. In young, progressive Jewish circles, pork eating can have a kind of social currency— treyf is hip.

Most bacon-loving Jews can blithely violate the ancient laws with little ambivalence. Although others in the Jewish community take offense, the pork-eaters claim no agenda of assimilation or rejection of traditional values. To them, it’s a gratuitous gesture tinged with irony rather than rebellion, complete with its own line of ironic t shirts (Kosher Ham). And bacon tastes so good.

Deuteronomy got a lot of things right. I’m not so sure the bacon prohibition was one of them.


Posted in blogging, food trends | Tagged , | 3 Comments

How to Cook a Lion

lion tamer costume via

. It is perfectly legal to buy and cook lion.
It is perfectly legal to buy and cook lion.
Let’s leave aside the question of why for the moment.

It’s illegal to sell wild, hunted game in the U.S., and of course anything on the endangered species list is federally protected. But the laws are full of loopholes and exceptions that make it legal to buy everything from camel to zebra to black bear. Some animals, like yak, are farmed. Small game, like raccoons and beavers, can’t be hunted for meat, but they can be trapped for fur; confoundingly, that meat can be legally sold. Lions generally come to the market from circuses and zoos. When the animals are too old to breed or show, they can be slaughtered for fur and meat.

It definitely doesn’t taste like chicken.

Most game meats are very low in saturated fat and cholesterol– lower than beef and pork and even chicken and turkey. When the animals are raised on grass, their meat is high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Lion meat, however, is not particularly healthy. Lions are strict carnivores at the top of the food chain; their meat contains concentrated levels of toxins and toxic proteins that have been absorbed by all of the animals along their dietary food chain.

You can buy lion meat in the form of shoulder roasts, tenderloin and other steaks, ground, and ribs. The meat is very pale and soft, but with almost no intramuscular fat it cooks up tough and dry. It purportedly tastes like pork with an added tang. It is definitely not kosher.

There are some better choices. You’ll swear you’re eating the best-tasting duck of your life when you’re served yak, or so they say. Antelope look like deer but are actually in the goat family, with a similar mild taste and fine grain. Beaver tail is supposed to be fantastic— woodsy and musk- flavored with meat the texture of short ribs. Try it brined, the experts say.

Which brings us to why.

Maybe you’re burned out on hamburgers and hot dogs from the long, grilling season. Or you’ve seen one too many bizarre food episodes with the Travel Channel’s Anthony Bourdain. It’s also possible that this is the start of a pendulum swing back from the effeteness of too many dainty little sprinkle-covered cupcakes.

Mainstream supermarket chains have responded to the popularity of game meats. Fresh ostrich meat and ground bison are butcher counter staples, and wild boar sausage can frequently be found packaged with the hot dogs.

You’ll need to shop online if you want to truly go wild.

[a disclaimer: at Gigabiting, we are deeply troubled by the treatment of animals raised for fur, circuses, and similar purposes. But it seems ethically unambiguous to eat, rather than waste, the by-product of these other activities.]

Czimer’s is known for the broadest and most reliable selection of exotic meats. This is the place for hard-to-find animals like black bear, camel, kangaroo, and African lion.

Alongside the zebra and rat meat, Anshu Pathak’s Exotic Meat Market has a selection of game meat hot dogs and bacon.

Posted in food trends | 6 Comments

No Cash? No Problem. How to Barter for Food


My This for Your That

You used to do it as a kid. You had an innate sense of the relative value of Twinkies and would broker a lunchroom exchange.

In recent years, barter has been making a comeback. This ancient form of trade is alive and well in e-commerce. Combining the DIY ethic with social networks, online barter exchanges are flourishing in the current, shaky economy. […]

Posted in food trends, shopping | Tagged , | 6 Comments
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