At the beginning of 2017, experts suggested we were about to witness a wave of vegetarian butcheries, 1970s-inspired food, and ‘deconstructed coffee’ (whatever that is). Thankfully, such tropes are still yet to emerge in the UK food trends.
But what did we see? A curious return to trolley service – cheese, dim sum, and all. A new love for fermentation and pickling. Essentially, the old ways of doing things all of a sudden seemed like the new ways of doing things. Oh, and with the odd avocado thrown in here and there too.
This year, there’s bound to be more shifts afoot. Let’s take a look at what they might be.
V for Vegan
The number of people taking to plant-based diets has increased by almost 400% in the past decade. In 2017, restaurants realised veganism was more than just a passing fad, and started acting accordingly. Better transparency as to where our meat comes from means veganism is set to become a solid motif in 2018, especially in the casual dining sector and among UK cities. More specifically, expect a move towards down-and-dirty vegan food, as exhibited by Gizzi Erskine’s Pure Filth pop-up at Tate Modern, and influential American chain By Chloe, scheduled to set up a branch in London within the next year.
That’s Not Cricket
Mexican restaurants, among others, have shown us that you can be a bit squeamish but still enjoy fried grasshoppers in your guacamole. Eat Grub, an ‘edible insect pop-up’ in collaboration with Farang’s Seb Holmes, has been making a major case for delicious alternative protein in the past few years. Their 2017 showcase helped blow preconceptions about crickets and worms and the like completely out the water. With advantages such as sustainable low maintenance farms, and the attractive cost of these ingredients, it’s not a case of should the industry notice, but when.
Brewer Meets Chef
It’s been a long time coming, but finally restaurants are starting to explore the role of beer in cooking. The pop-up Malt + Pepper, which is currently doing the rounds in South East London, is allegedly the UK’s very first ‘beer-led food’ concept, already successful in catching the eye of the growing number of craft beer lovers. Dishes such as Kernel’s Export India Porter-braised pork belly, and Rodenbach Grand Cru-poached pears proves that alcohol in cooking is not so one-dimensional, and extends much further than just wine and spirits.
A Taste Of Home
If things go the way the government expects them to, Brexit will start to take effect in 2019. In some other industries, Brexit has awoken a new appetite for supporting British ideals, and home-grown producers are as a result busier than they’ve ever been. If people start thinking the same way when eating out, we’ll see more demand for local cuisine: Lancashire hotpot, toad-in-the-hole, shepherd’s pie, and the rest.
I read somewhere that throwing away the tops and tails of carrots or leeks, or chucking out apple cores, is a very British thing to do. Perhaps not exclusively so, but it’s true we have an overly sanitary approach to our food – some folk, I think, have forgotten what a carrot looks like, with its rather hairy exterior and long green rosette. This year, the Amazon-bought grocer giant Whole Foods predicts there’ll be more interest shown towards ‘making use of the entire fruit or vegetable, including the stems or leaves.’ Given the growing interest in things like traceability and provenance – especially among young epicures – they may well be right.
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