You're right to be wary of any dish, ingredient, or cuisine that touts itself as "the newest [insert popular food item here]." Food trends can be fickle and short-lived—one day they're "in," the next day they're "over"—when in reality, food preferences are subjective and personal, and a goji berry that's so 2014 is still available (and scrumptious) today.
However, that doesn't mean you can't note the changing tide of en vogue foods and enjoy them while they're on top. After all, they might give you an opportunity to make use of a (previously) unsung ingredient. Much like fashion trends, food trends provide us with a chance to experiment. And who knows, maybe you'll even find something on this list to add to your culinary repertoire—or else you might discover that a food you already cherished is the newest gustatory darling (and bask in the glory that you knew about it first).
Some of these ingredients or cuisines might already be familiar to you, and some might be totally novel; all we know is, they're what we want to be eating this fall. Come—join us.
When it comes to your fall food color palette, there's one hue to rule them all: purple. We've seen purple pop up in hearty winter vegetables and Pantone hues for a while, but it seems this shade has staying power. So go chuck some cabbage, cauliflower, beets, potatoes (both sweet and regular), concord grapes and red onions in your reusable shopping bag and get cooking.
Originally used to denote a shellfish-based soup, the term "bisque" has come to encompass any pureed soup with a smooth, silky texture. Often (but not necessarily) thickened with cream, bisque is usually associated with French haute cuisine, and can be dismissed as fussy and high-maintenance. However, at its heart bisque is nothing more intimidating than a blended, vegetable- or seafood-based soup, and it, along with traditional French cuisine on the whole, is experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Plus, did we mention cream?
Beer and soda aren't the only things you can get on tap anymore, folks. From wine to kombucha to batch cocktails (hey, negroni!) to cold brew coffee (and cold brew negronis!), many of your favorite beverages are now available via tap. Does this make them taste any better? That's up for debate—but it certainly looks cool.
You might already know that seaweed is a superfood, chock-full of nutrients and antioxidants. However, kelp and algae are also touted as the future of sustainable aquaculture because they're healthy, grow quickly, and absorb carbon. While you're probably familiar with the nori wrapped around your sushi rolls, chefs are starting to find more ways to highlight this marine plant—and so should you. A few suggestions for how to start your seaweed love affair: pickle it, add it to grain or poke bowls, or transform it into a savory, vinegar-laced salad.
Dubbed "Europe's best-kept secret" by CNN Travel, it's high time that Portuguese food got its time in the spotlight. The cuisine shines due to its wealth of incredible local ingredients, from fresh seafood to incredible dairy and flavorful pork, not to mention its excellent wines (vinho verde and port, we're looking at you). This fall, it's time to expand your knowledge of Portuguese food past the pastel de nata.
Smoky flavors are emerging out of the realm of barbecue into your vegetables, pasta, and even cocktails. And we say you should embrace them. The essence of smoke adds a meaty savoriness to vegetarian (or mostly vegetarian) dishes, and is especially welcome as temperatures drop and the craving for cozy, warming food hits hard.
Sesame sweets aren't anything new (we at Food52 have had a soft spot for them for quite a while), but recently tahini has been popping up on more and more dessert menus. As with peanut butter, tahini's nutty, creamy flavor plays well in both sweet and savory dishes—but it's the sweet ones that are really having a moment. Combine sesame paste with Japanese flavors like matcha and red bean, sub it for peanut butter in some tried-and-true dishes (hey, chocolate chip cookies), or just let it shine all on its own—just make sure to take advantage of sesame (and tahini) madness while it's at its peak.
Sour beers, which acquire their vinegary funk from a genus of yeast called Brettanomyces, are divisive: you either love them, or you really, really don't. I myself am a sour beer convert: its bracing tang keeps beer fatigue at bay, and its funky tartness plays just as well with hearty fall fare as it does with nachos. Sour beers have long been the darling of beer geeks everywhere, but their non-traditional flavor has begun to attract beer skeptics—so give it a try to see whether you're pro- or anti- this new beer trend.
If you needed any more evidence that sandwiches are having a moment, just look at Bon Appetit's pick for Best New Restaurant, 2017—and not just sandwiches, but vegetarian sandwiches. Recently, chefs have been putting a lot more thought into vegetarian sandwich options than just slapping some hummus and cheese between two slices of bread. From deep-fried cauliflower to crisp, pickled vegetables to condiments galore, vegetarian sandwiches aren't just for meat-abstainers anymore.
A few years ago Rene Redzepi ushered in the era of New Nordic cuisine, with its foraged nettles and insect garnishes and ability to make pickled fish a covetable menu item. However, Scandinavian desserts, the kind usually found accompanying a strong coffee for fika, the daily Swedish coffee break, are popping up at bakeries left and right. From cardamom, cinnamon, and turmeric buns to tiger cake and almond danishes, prepare yourself for Nordic pastries galore.
Ramen and pho have had their heyday, but we're predicting that udon will be the newest "it" noodle. Thick, chewy, and oh-so-slurpable, udon noodles are typically served hot in the winter (often in soup) and cold in the summer, alongside a dipping sauce. This fall, sub them for egg noodles in your classic chicken noodle, or use them as a base to soak up your favorite stir-fry.
Wheat-free flours are nothing new for gluten-free baking, but alternative flours are gaining popularity because of their intrinsic (and unusual) flavors. From chestnut flour pancakes to spelt scones to fruit-filled buckwheat cookies to rice flour-based sweet potato cake and cricket flour cookies, alternative flours are no longer a compromise; they're an end unto themselves. Stock up at the bulk bin section and then check out Alice Medrich's guide to experimenting with alternative flours, and let the baking begin.
What do you think—are these food trends played out, or do they have staying power? And what's the next trend coming around the corner?