The New Year may already seem like old news but, having spent the festive period idly perusing exciting lists of “hot new food trends” over cold turkey, I think it’s only right that I warn you what’s on the menu for 2014.
Conscientious readers may remember that I made some similar predictions last year, with mixed results. Though posh burgers and fancy fried chicken were safe bets, the zingy flavours of Israeli cuisine – despite the best efforts of Yotam Ottolenghi – are proving to be a tough sell in this country. That said, if you’re intrigued, keep an eye on M&S’s deli and salad selection this spring.
(In the interests of balance, you may like to know that the shop is already stocking freekeh, the sprouted green wheat that has replaced quinoa as the hipster grain de jour and is grown by a Palestinian farming co-operative in the West Bank.)
While we’re on the subject of regions with complicated politics, people don’t seem to be similarly put off by events in the Korean peninsular: 2013 was the year that Tesco reported a 140 per cent jump in sales of Korean ingredients and kimchi, the beloved funky fermented cabbage, invaded Britain, sneaking into everything from tacos to Stilton toasties.
You’ll probably be seeing more of such fusion fast food in the months to come. Ramen burgers, with fried noodles replacing the bun, are already big news in the US – never a place slow to embrace edible absurdity – and the country is also to blame for the pizzarito, the luckless offspring of a loveless quickie between a pizza and a burrito.
Both are ridiculous enough to be 2014’s equivalent of the cronut, last year’s much-hyped croissant-doughnut hybrid, but I’m hoping that the ice cream sandwich will have its moment instead – though I suspect it will be in the form of ricotta gelato on cinnamon thins, rather than the waxy vanilla wafers of Weston-super-Mare.
Korean food will be joined by other lesser-known Asian cuisines, such as the still puzzlingly underrated Vietnamese, whose fortunes should be improved by the House of Ho in London’s Soho – the first foreign outpost for the Hanoi-based restaurateur Bobby Chinn – and once Waitrose starts doing a Burmese chicken soup, you know that its newly accessible neighbour can’t be far behind.
That said, this year, we will almost certainly be turning our attentions westward. With the World Cup in June, we’re all going to be drowning in a rainbow-bright flood of Brazilian rainforest fruit.
Though prehistoric Amazonian fish may be an acquired taste, I suspect that feijoada, a meaty black bean stew, might appeal more to the British palate, while churrasco, a feast of grilled meats, is a shoo-in.
Indeed, barbecue in general will be smoking (sorry). As well as the slew of rib and pulled pork joints opening everywhere from Manchester to Bristol, there’s some cutting- edge Spanish charcoal grill cooking going on at the new restaurant Ember Yard in London, while serious home cooks are desperate to get a Big Green Egg, a Japanese-style ceramic charcoal barbecue and smoker.
You can put just about anything on the Egg, from brisket to broccoli, which is handy, because the trend I’m most excited about this year – apart from the hopeful (if unlikely) claim that we’ll all be busy making our own butter and cheese – is vegetable-based cooking, as seen at the Grain Store in King’s Cross or L’Enclume in Cumbria.
Not necessarily vegetarian, this simply has flora replacing fauna in the limelight for once – which brings me to another favourite prediction. According to the Huffington Post, this year, cauliflower is “the new kale”. The brassicas are coming, people. Look busy.
Next week: John Burnside on nature