Recently I read an article by Joanna Prisco about five Unexpected food trends sweeping America. I’m naturally drawn to articles about food because:
(1) I love food, (2) I love to eat, (3) I love to cook, and (4) I am constantly looking for material for the cooking blog I now find myself writing because of #1, 2, and 3. It’s possible that you’ve noticed one or two of these trends and even more likely that you’ve succumbed to one of them.
1. Cut the Cupcake
Cupcakes have literally swept the nation – bakeries totally dedicated to cupcakes have popped up in every major urban area, there are blogs devoted to cupcakes, there are cupcake cookbooks, and cupcakes have even upset wedding cake protocol as many brides and grooms are skipping the traditional tiered wedding cake in favor of the cute, no fork-required, delectable cupcake.
2. Cooks Hit the Books
Even though, or maybe because, the economy is tight, cooking classes have never been hotter. Retail stores like Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma, and Ikea offer free classes to thrifty home chefs who want to learn the basics quickly. They also offer more specialized classes for a fee for classes such as fresh pasta-making, knife-handling skills, or American classics. Would-be chefs are flocking to professional cooking schools such as Le Cordon Bleu, where according to Ms. Prisco’s article, enrollment is way up across the nation.
3. Gourmet Food Trucks
Here in southern California, we’re familiar with the mobile food trucks, OK I’ll say it: roach coaches, that provide breakfast and lunch to industrial parks and areas with a heavy concentration of office buildings. Now, mobile food trucks have gone gourmet and these purveyors of inventive street-side special are using Twitter to alert followers to their locations and create a feeding frenzy. Hungry lunchtime diners consider this gourmet street fare the equivalent of a restaurant lunch without the hassles of driving, traffic, and parking and at a fraction of the cost. Wildly popular in Los Angeles, and beginning to venture into Orange County is Kogi Korean-BBQ. Other gourmet food trucks that make the rounds in Los Angeles are Sprinkles Cupcake Van, Green Truck – organic fare, good for you and good for the planet , Let’s Be Frank – grass-fed beef hot dogs and brats, and the Fish Lips Sushi Truck. For the twitter addresses of these and other listings, click here.
News Flash: In today’s Orange County Register, Nancy Luna reports that other mobile food trucks spotted on the streets of Orange County since the holidays are Louks to Go – featuring a menu of Greek specialties, Taco Dawg with a variety of gourmet tacos and hot dogs, and Piaggio on Wheels, described on Twitter as an Argentine taco truck.
According to Nancy, Louks launched this week in Orange County after “getting its feet wet” in Los Angeles over the holidays. They will be in North Orange County about five nights a week, unfortunately lunch stops will be in LA only. Taco Dawg has mostly been hanging out in Costa Mesa bars such as The Huddle, Goat Hill Tavern, Newport-Mesa schools, and office complexes in Irvine but check out their Twitter site for exact times and locations. Piaggio has been in Irvine, Santa Ana and Placentia – check out their site for exact details.
4. Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks…
Snacks at stadiums no longer means just doughy pretzels, popcorn, or peanuts. The American palate has changed to include an array of cultures and, thankfully, stadiums have responded. Yankee Stadium opened this past season with culinary selections ranging from dry-aged prime rib to a sushi station. Kiosks were multi-cultural at the U.S. Open, offering Indian, Italian, and Mexican. Stadiums across the country offer regional specialties and celebrity chefs may soon jump into the action: Iron Chef, MIchael Symon, opened B Spot, a burgers and bratwurst outpost in his hometown of Cleveland. Here in Orange County we’ve been lucky to enjoy a wide array of standard and more upscale food at Angel Stadium, after it’s reopening in 1996 following a major face-lift, and the Honda Center since it opened in 1993.
5. Get out the Pressure Cooker
Believe it or not, canning is back. “According to Jarden Home Brands – maker of Kerr and Ball brand mason jars – sales of canning equipment were up 30% in 2009. Some people are “putting up” food to save money on groceries, while others are attracted by the health aspects of home-made goods.” I even bought mason jars this year. But not with canning in mind. My daughter and I used them for our Cowboy cookie mix holiday gifts. When I think of canning, I remember my mom admitting that the pressure cooker scared her and she always approached that hissing contraption with great caution. Yet every summer, she canned tomatoes, green beans, apples, and peaches that would provide garden-freshness until the next summer’s bounty.
So which of these food trends have you been privy to?
I KNOW that you had to have savored a red velvet or chocolate cupcake in the past year, but have your taste buds been treated to a wedding cupcake?
Or perhaps, you’ve been able to enjoy a spicy tuna roll while watching your home team crush the opponent?
Now that you know there are FREE classes offered by Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table, will you seek to improve your culinary skills?
Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!
Kogi photo credit: etundra.com