“Anything is good if it is made of chocolate.” – Jo Brand
In the interest of covering one of my favourite subjects in the world, I have done a cursory search on food trends for 2012. Admittedly, food trends are not my favourite subject, but food in all its lovely forms is. One trend I found interestingly disturbing is that blood is a featured food trend for this just barely started New Year. Yes, blood—I think all those teenage angst vampire movies are getting the best of us. Perhaps we are supposed to only eat “blood” foods at twilight (sorry, couldn’t resist).
Canadian author and cook extraordinaire, Bonnie Stern provided the readers of the National Post with the culinary trends for 2012 and blood was on her list. I read her list several times to make sure that my blurry eyed reading of her column late at night meant that I was not seeing things correctly. So I looked up food trends for 2012 on the Internet, and there it was, as red as the nose on Rudolph’s face—blood is a bone fide 2012 food trend. According to my reading on the site “Nutrition Unplugged”, “blood is appearing on menus more and more” as blood pancakes, waffles, and of all things: blood ice cream. I read no further—my curiosity was curbed. Bonnie was not making this up—I wish she had been.
In her article, Bonnie (I am on a first name basis with her, though she does not know it) wisely said that culinary trends are gradual, and some “foods become part of our culture, some disappear, while others keep trying to make it” and she put the choice of what we want to keep in our laps. She said “You decide what will stay and go this year” and gave us a list she had gleaned from somewhere. She did not say where she got the trendy list—but here it is—for your culinary pleasure (or displeasure): bitters, blood, butterscotch, doughnuts, French food, grilled cheese sandwiches, heart, herbal desserts, historical recipes, hotel dining, innards, induction cooking, Korean, mackerel, marrow, McCafes, meatless Mondays on Wednesday, Nordic cuisine, rye, sea buckthorn, sous vide (method of cooking in sealed plastic) at home, salsify, sweetbreads, vegetables and wood sorrel.
Now Bonnie is trying to put forth the argument that butterscotch is the new chocolate, grilled cheese the new hamburger, and vegetables, the new bacon. I have no argument with butterscotch, grilled cheese or vegetables—but let me make this very clear—I will agree to them only in addition to chocolate, hamburgers, and bacon, not instead of. Why do things have to be left behind? And speaking of left behind, “Nutrition Unplugged” provided a list of what’s in and what’s out in the food industry, according consumer researchers, The Hartman Group. I totally agree with the site’s rejection of “nutritionism” which they say refers to “celebrating or demonizing particular ingredients at the expense of the food itself” allowing the popularity of processed foods such as potato chips with added fibre to flourish, while “whole, real foods in the produce section remain uneaten.” What I am not sure about is The Hartman Group’s “in” and “out” lists—but I will leave it for you to decide.
“Out” for 2012 is margarine, processed soy protein, low sodium, fat free, artificial sweeteners, white chicken meat, superfruits from afar, egg whites, processed factory cheese, activities trumping meal time, excessive supplements, elimination diets, treadmills, ultra lite beer, baked potato chips and wheat grass shots. So what are we supposed to replace these with? “In” for this youngster of a year is real butter, grass fed meat, sea salt, healthy fats, stevia, dark chicken meat, local, seasonal superfruits, whole eggs (cage free), The Family Dinner, fresh produce, portion control, dance/rumba, craft beer, kettle potato chips and dark leafy greens.
In the spirit of things, I bought a bouquet of dark, leafy green kale, which is supposed to be a superfood if you pay any attention to Dr. Oz at all. The question is: will it wilt in my fridge or will I find some way to work it into my somewhat haphazard but well-intentioned diet? But if there is anything I know for sure, it is that I will not be working blood into any of my finely tuned recipes anytime soon—although, if you think about it—what is gravy?