Chatelaine Kitchen

Nine food trends for 2012: What you'll be eating more of this year

Chatelaine's food editor explains which food trends — in restaurants, your kitchen and online – will make appearances this year

Chatelaine’s food editor explains which food trends – in restaurants, your kitchen and online – will change the eating landscape this year.

In restaurants

1. Kimchi
The spicy fermented cabbage side dish is practically the national dish of Korea, and it’s the darling ingredient of chefs right now. If you haven’t already tasted it, 2012 will likely bring it to your plate. We love it – but it can be an acquired taste. More and more supermarkets carry jars of kimchi; try it first as a burger topping, and take it from there.

2. Danish food
It started when Copenhagen restaurant Noma was named number one in the world. And while Canadian households aren’t likely to be serving up fried reindeer moss as chef René Redzepi does, there is space in our hearts and on our menus for the spectacular open-faced sandwiches, “smorrebrod,” that Danes love. Think thinly-sliced dark rye bread topped with roast beef and fried shallots, or with sliced boiled potato and egg, or with cured salmon, mustard and sprouts. These minimalist sandwiches are healthy, endlessly variable and not too filling – perfect for the start of a new year.

3. Sandwiches
They will continue to dominate the food world. Besides smorrebrod, look out for bahn mi, Vietnamese sandwiches that layer various kinds of paté and sliced meats into a crusty white baguette-type bun. It’s the delicious addition of pickled carrots, onions and big sprigs of fresh cilantro that make them unforgettable. And meatball sandwiches will see a new celebrity in 2012.

Hot ingredients
4. Persimmons and wheatberries
Persimmons, beautiful orange fruit that have the texture of a ripe mango and a fragrant, delicate flavour, are the fruit for the year. Look for the soft fuyu variety (firmer hachiya persimmons must be very ripe to be eaten). Wheatberries, the whole kernel of wheat, are the hot grain for 2012. They look like a dark brown version of barley and need to be simmered for at least 30 min. They are chewy, delicious and very healthy, and chefs are using them in salads and as side dishes.

At home

5. Streamlined cooking
I mean allowing food to sing (as opposed to making it submit!). On the heels of the popularity of home-preserving and growing-your-own, now cooks are foregoing rubs, marinades and sauces, and focusing on the ingredient. Steak? Salt, pepper and grill it. Carrots? Steam and serve with a touch of salted butter, and maybe a snip of tarragon or chives. Spend time, money and effort growing or sourcing outstanding ingredients, not fancying them up.

6. Black coffee
Our favourite hot drink is always a good barometer of overall food trends. I see a return to basics: say bye bye to $3000 espresso makers, frothy non-milks and flavour shots, and say hello to a French press and a mug.

Online

7. Flow charts
Is it because people are so busy? Or are graphic designers just turning their talents to food? Whatever the case, we love these adorable “plans” for figuring out what’s for dinner (or breakfast!).

8. Total airwave domination of food-related reality TV
And you thought food TV was about cooking. Wrong, my friends. It’s about people trying to get famous. And lots of people want to be famous.

9. End of bacon
It was cute when specialty shops started “bacon of the month” clubs. It got weird when adult shops stocked bacon-flavoured lube. Bacon has dominated food culture for at least three years, but its reign has now ended. (Don’t worry bacon, we still adore you, but please, stick to breakfasts, sandwiches and Brussels sprouts!)