You’ve been guilty of these. You’ve been proud of these. And sometimes, you’ve been the silent (and perhaps amused) spectator for these.
Can you believe it’s been an entire decade? Food trends have come and gone as often as day and night this 2010-2019, from a less-meat movement to the rise of gin, kombucha, and avocados — so many avocados. We’ve become Instagram-obsessed this decade, claiming that the “camera eats first”, with many dining venues reacting by serving up ‘grammable dishes.
From the good to the bizarre, here are our top food trends of the decade that cooked up a real storm. Bon Appetit.
How can this not top the list? From a hippie vibe to being made fun of, to now so mainstream that restaurants across the world carry vegan options, if not exclusive vegan menus—it’s one the biggest dietary shifts of our generation. Veganism is ‘a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose’. Around since 1944, it has only picked up pace now, and those who’ve practiced it can’t stop raving about the positive change in their health. If being vegan is a part of your new year resolution, here’s the starter guide: no dairy, no meats, not even honey or any such animal-derived products.
Local. Seasonal. Fresh. You would’ve noticed these terms describing menus at every other restaurant now. That’s because the global food industry is finally waking up to the excess waste, as well as the importance of quality of produce. Year-round availability of ingredients from all across the world—which requires a sufficient amount of artificial additions to keep it safe and edible—the focus has shifted to in-season ingredients from the region you’re in, as it’s nature’s best you can consume at any given moment. Also, movements like Root to Fruit ensure that the kitchens and bars ustilise all components of an ingredient, minimising waste and maximising innovation. Celebrating the land you’re in and helping out the environment? This could be one of the best movements to hit F&B in the century.
If you don’t have at least one artisanal product in the pantry already, are you even eating right? There’s been an influx of artisanal in all segments of F&B, stemming for people’ want of moving away from processed, mass-produced foods to more keenly created goods. Be it tea, coffee, meats, cocktails, vegetables, preserves, chips…you name it and you’ve got it. What’s to love? Most brands to follow through, and what you get is quality, small-batch products, invariably open to personalisation too. The fact that it’s helped a whole industry come up where small food businesses can exist and thrive is only helps.
A cult in itself, Instagram food is now legitimate. With dishes and menus created specially to fit your Insta-aesthetic, the app has certainly won over the food world. Perfect flat lays of the table, attractively frosted cupcakes, steaming ramen, colour coordinated acai bowls—love it or hate it, you can’t ignore it (nor will your feed algorithm).
The humble fruit deserves a point to itself. As guacamole, on toast, with eggs, on its own, in soups and salads, in sushi, in desserts…you get the drift, the versatile avocado can be consumed any which way. Said to be around since 15,000 BC, it’s finally got recognition this decade—and perhaps all of it in one go! Despite it not being inexpensive, you’ll find it on almost every menu worth its salt. With its universally loved texture, taste, and health benefits, there’s no hyping down the avo anytime soon.
You may have noticed by now that health is a recurring factor in this decade’s food trends. Yet another one pandering to this theme is kombucha. The fermented tea with a minimal amount of alcohol is known for its high probiotics and antioxidants factor. Definitely in it for the long haul, this trend has changed how we view beverages—with brands and businesses coming up solely around kombucha. With the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal, Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Orlando Bloom swearing by this fermented tea, its fate as the go-to cool drink is sealed.
The explosion that gin as seen in the alcohol world has not been witnessed in decades. It managed to disrupt the popularity vote enjoyed by vodka and tequila, and closer home that of whiskey and rum. Its versatility and ability to incorporate layers of flavours has made it one of the best spirits to experiment with. And specifically for Asians, the infusions with many a spices and herbs means its closer to our palate, making gin even more friendly. Exclusive gin cocktails are commonplace now, alluding to this trend. If you haven’t hopped aboard this one, there’s no better time than now, as with bars and mixologists putting their all into gin, you’ll get the best of drinks.
The no-straw movement has gained more momentum than anyone could’ve predicted. Sparked in 2011 by Milo Cress, then a 9-year-old boy in the US who started the ‘Be Straw Free’ campaign, after discovering that Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day. Since then, the campaign has picked up like wildfire, with photos of animals choked on plastic flooding the internet in order to increase awareness. While there are to schools of thought, one in complete support and the other contending that straws are a minor aspect of a much larger issue and this microscopic focus isn’t enough for change, there’s no denying the global impact #NoStraws has had and will continue to in the coming times.
While there are trends that defined the decade, there are several others that may not find themselves in the same hall of fame, but surely had the world hooked for long enough to leave an imprint. So here goes: Matcha was the food of Gods for the longest time, appearing in desserts, drinks, and everything in between. Cauliflower has had a makeover like none other, an all-time winner from the massive jump from lowest to highest ranking. Freak shakes had us drooling (at least on social media). Unicorn and raindrop cakes too had the world swooning after them. The Japanese cheesecake and fluffy pancakes put the cute in food this decade. Truffle has taken over as the topping of choice, regardless of the dish you’re eating. Poke, ramen, and acai bowls ruled the roost for one-pot meals that taste and look equally good. The cronut became a legit thing, while the coffee in a cone whizzed by. And kale, quinoa, and celery became the holy trinity of healthy snacking.
Innovation, globalisation, and consciousness—for both what we put inside and take from the outside—have been major themes in the food industry for this decade. Here’s to looking at what the 2020s bring up!
This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia India.