Anyone, who wants to be seen as "hip and happening" and part of the 'it' crowd, has at some point in time posted a picture of food from their travels or visits to posh restaurants on Instagram. Food has universal appeal, makes for a great picture, arousing envy in the viewer, as it sets a bar on the kind of place you would be seen frequenting, and is aspirational for those, who want to show that they can do it too.
The competition for posting the most viewed photos has set some trends across the world, which people have emulated. Here is what we loved this year:
* Unicorn food: When Adeline Waugh, a Miami food stylist, decided to experiment with a pop of natural food colour in her picture, she never dreamed that it would start the biggest Instagram trend. What has followed is history - every imaginable pastel colour, sprinkles, marshmallows, cream and butter has been used to create ice creams, lattes, cakes, milkshakes, doughnuts and cookies to name a few. Even mundane food like soups and toast have been splashed with rainbow hues, with cafés vying for the most photographable images.
* Lattes: This on-the-go drink made it big this year. The milky glasses drenched in interesting colours and swirls of foam were a favourite among teeny boppers, who make Instagram popular. The world specially caught on to turmeric latte, which has been around in our country for centuries as a health drink. Popular coffee chains started offering them on the menu, and everyone in the world wanted to be seen drinking them and posting pictures.
* Sushi: This is an eternal favourite when it comes to pictures. Japanese food has always been popular for its clean Zen lines with muted colour-fills. Lately, sushi has been reinvented as fusion food, with a combination of flavours from different regions in the world. The rice-packed rolls interspersed with layers of coloured sauces, salmon and prawn has taken the shape of burritos, burgers and doughnuts in Instagram clicks.
* Ice cream cones: Who can resist the appeal of an ice cream cone with myriad hues of ice cream dripping from the top! It is not just children, who instagrammed decadent ice cream cones, but adults as well. When the cone is layered with different flavours of ice cream followed by marshmallows, cookies, sprinkles, fruits and nuts, it becomes a whole new level of snobbery. And some parlours went "goth" with their black ice cream dyed with activated charcoal that made waves on social media.
* Healthy juices: The world is tripping on everything healthy right now and Instagram is not behind on this trend either. It is now au courant to announce your fitness fad, with a mason jar of health juice. The uglier the colour, the healthier it is deemed. Dirty greens, muddy yellows and beet-stained reds became fashionable because of their absolutely natural sources of vegetables, fruits and greens. The one with the ability to churn out juices from prickly pear, fennel root, curry powder and the like, became social media stars.
* Buddha bowls: The concept of a Buddha bowl is a layered one, with food groups of every type being fused in one big sumptuous bowl. Every cuisine across the world came up with their own version of the bowl, combining traditional foods with modern mash-ups. Instagrammers worldwide started competing on who could make the most interesting Buddha bowl and what they would put in it. Local Indian ones turned up with variations of rice, sambhar and curry along with exotic salads and ingredients taking it a notch up in the pictures.
* Going native: Across the world, people started rediscovering their roots. The Italians reclaimed their pizzas, the French their cheeses and the Chinese wanted their dimsums back. We Indians, never too disconnected from our home food wherever we go, started finding roti, dal, pongal, ragi mudde, masala dosa and sambhar more attractive than ever before. These foods started appearing on our Insta feeds, titillating the taste buds around the world.
(The author is lead India operations, Cookpad Inc)