Why is this such an exciting time for food in America? Is it globalization—Americans who have worked and lived abroad and brought food traditions back with them? Is it the remarkable biodiversity of this country? Or the unique cultures—how the New Orleans Po’ Boy can fuse with the BBQ of Texas, and New York's bagels and lox. It's a mixture of all those reasons, which is why the American food trends of 2017 are as diverse as this country. Before we start this conversation about American food trends, we're going to differentiate between "trendy" and trends. Instead of focusing on progressive food movements in progressive cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, things like biohacking, entomophagy (aka, eating bugs), or paleo diets, this article is about the average urban eater. What are they up to these days?
Here are some of the 2017 American food trends to watch out for:
Who doesn't love a good charcuterie? Today's eater loves together with their friends in a backyard with some bratwurst sausages, chorizo, a little saucisson sec, maybe some boudin, and drink some beers. Life is stressful enough, so a little-smoked meat and a Montauk Driftwood Ale can take the edge off. Plus, for restaurant owners this is a simple, inexpensive, and easy to prepare food that attracts customers, who, after consuming alcohol, can order more expensive plates (or just drink more). Stuff from the Woods (Preferably close to where you live) Foraging was seen as progressive a couple years ago, but now everyone has consumed and loves fiddlehead ferns, morel mushrooms, and ramps. And what’s even more impressive for a restaurant? If the menu lists exactly where the foraged mushrooms, flowers, or herbs were picked. It’s better if it’s a woods close by—that makes the food sustainable, local, and foraged. Triple winner.
Perhaps it started when Sriracha took off. Or maybe it was classic BBQ sauce that sent us reeling. Either way, when most people are looking at menus they are in search of innovative sauces with their food. They want it to have Japanese and German words mixed together with some other stuff they’ve never heard of. We’re talking harissa and habanero jam, date salsa, Piri Piri sauce and black sesame tahini. Tahini in everything. It’s the year of the tahini.
Kombucha was definitely the catalyst here for the trendiness, even though fermentation is an ancient practice. It’s not only a great natural way to give food flavor without adding unnecessary sugars or chemicals, it’s also very healthy. It’s rich in probiotics which help your digestion. Expect customers to go for some tempeh, kimchi and Japanese natto.
Can you believe that 2017 is already half over? As the 2017 American food trends evolve, be sure to tune in to the James Beard Foundation to see where we’re headed. Or take a walk through Smorgasburg on Saturday afternoons in East River State Park. And don’t even think to underestimate Eataly. People still love that place.
Happy tasting, everybody.