Trend watch: Seven ways 2017 changed how we eat
Cauliflower is in
Broccoli’s once unsexy sibling is suddenly everywhere—thanks to its shape-shifting superpowers. Cauliflower “rice” has become new staple in supermarket freezers, and a low-cal, low-carb go-to for lunch bowls. Cauliflower flour is the new star of gluten-free pizzas. And plenty of kitchens are deep-frying the cruciferous veggie and serving it with Buffalo sauce as a substitute for chicken wings. In New York, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s abcV roasts it whole and serves it with a steak knife. And forget the steamed or boiled versions you once hated. “That’s not the way you get people excited,” Philadelphia chef Michael Solmonov told Time. “Roasting the s--- out of it is exciting.”
Why wait until dinner to have truly memorable food? Top chefs around the country are waking up to the value of serving paying customers from the first coffee of the day. In San Francisco, long morning lines greeted the opening of the gourmet bazaar Tartine Manufactory. In Los Angeles, hungry patrons traveled out of their way for the Instagrammable offerings at Jordan Kahn’s avant-garde Destroyer. At New York City’s De Maria, where breakfast is served until 4 p.m. and cocktails all day, chef-owner Camille Becerra says it’s all about giving regulars what they need. As she told Eater.com: “I like to think of the restaurant as a third space—apart from the home or the office—where people can come together for as much or as little time as they please.”
Women ruling the kitchen
The boys’ club is finally breaking up. Though celebrated female chefs are nothing new, more women than ever are teaming up to launch game-changing restaurants on their own. The five-woman team who created Houston’s Holy Roller could be the movement’s flag bearers, but there are rising stars everywhere. Sarah Hymanson and Sara Kramer’s Kismet has quickly become one of L.A.’s essential restaurants, while Jess Shadbolt and Clare de Boer of King are modeling an egoless approach to exceptional cooking. Men still get most of the awards and most of the reviews, it’s true. But in a year when the toppling of New Orleans celebrity chef John Besh opened up a dialogue about sexual harassment in the food industry, the women stepping into the spotlight are bringing with them a welcome change in kitchen culture. “There’s less screaming than you would imagine in [a] high-stress environment,” Holy Roller’s Callie Speer told TastingTable.com. “I look forward to seeing these girls every day.”
A war on sugar
Maybe we’ve finally gotten wise to Big Sugar’s game. Author Gary Taubes sounded the alarm at the start of 2017 with his best-seller The Case Against Sugar, arguing that the sugar industry has long covered up research pointing to the sweetener’s central role in heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and many common cancers. Taubes didn’t win the debate outright; global sugar consumption is up once again. But U.S. consumption has drifted downward, aided by food companies who’ve dialed down the sugar content in processed foods. Unfortunately, as a new federal study reports, manufacturers seem to be making up for the decline in sugar appeal by adding saturated fats.
From Paleo to keto
Tired of eating like a caveman? The year’s trendiest diet took low-carb eating to an extreme. Based on an eating regimen developed to reduce epileptic seizures, the ketogenic diet had weight-loss seekers and Silicon Valley biohackers going against instinct and embracing bacon, burgers, and other high-fat foods. The idea is to starve the body of glucose to turn it into a fat-burning machine. Converts claim higher energy levels, but there are side effects—including an adjustment phase known as the “keto flu.”
In the pre-Instagram era, restaurants loved dark wood and dim Edison bulbs. But dark rooms don’t photograph well, so restaurateurs seeking social media buzz are now creating spaces flooded with natural light and packed with unique touches. Tiki and tropical are hot, as are colorful midcentury furnishings. For Madelyn Markoe’s Media Noche in San Francisco, designer Hannah Collins chose dramatic pink-and-green-patterned tiles for the floor and banana-print wallpaper for the bathroom. Both features now inspire customers—some from as far away as Japan—to spend up to 10 minutes snapping photos before ordering food. As Markoe told TheVerge.com, “It’s just really insane.”
Last year, it was rainbow bagels and unicorn grilled cheeses. This year, everything went black, as “activated charcoal” jumped from water purifiers into food and beverages. Pitch-colored burger buns, lattes, and ice cream (above) flooded Instagram feeds, and many fans claimed health benefits. That’s questionable: Doctors say charcoal absorbs just about anything that’s in the gut, including helpful medications and nutrients.