2017 is falling off the calendar. Are you tempted to stand on the weighing scale to take stock of all the lard you added or shed in the past 365 days? Don't. Not yet. Just go back to your meal plate and decipher whether you were food-trendy in 2017 or not.
Was there pulverised insect in your muffin? Cricket (insect, not the game, silly) in the pancake. Did you gulp Yucatan pickle for good gut flora? To add a briny tang to food did you used healthy dulse (seaweed) as a salt substitute? Shunned the whiskey and tried turmeric shots, charcoal-activated water, cold-pressed juices and non-alcoholic 'spirits' like Seedlip? Added hemp and sacha inchi in your munch-list? Algae, pea, duckweed and shiitake mushrooms as alt proteins. Like Beyoncé, did you sip watermelon water? Or threw succulent cactus in it? Well, if you answered yes to at least 5, you should be fit as a fiddle and ready to roll light as air into 2018.
The year began with hot trends screaming headlines predicting the reign of all things purple. Whole Foods upped the purple-puff by stating that the pricey purple cauliflower, potatoes, corn, asparagus that once sat on shelves with 'expensive' tags was all set to become Everyman's nutrient-pumper. Sterling-Rice Group talked of dessert for breakfast as 'chocolate improved cognitive function'; Google drooled over edible cookie dough as 2017's indulgent trend, McCormick revved to bring the much-maligned egg yolk back into the kitchen and Mintel, a market intelligence agency, blabbered about sleep protein that promotes "calmness and relaxation to encourage sustained quality sleep". Nation's Restaurant News, a restaurant industry news organisation, went a step further harping on drinkable desserts and boozy twists on childhood favourites (Think: bourbon-spiked smoothie or floats).
If you think sleep protein and boozy childhood twists sounds like a recipe gone wrong, then didn't you hear the 2017 buzz around zoodles? It is not noodle from a zoo, it's zucchini noodle. That is spiralising an alt pasta - it is not pasta, it is spiralled zucchini faking as pasta. Chefs around the world were making classic dishes with zoodles - from shoestring fries to beef stroganoff.
The 2017 alt-pasta concoction went beyond the zucchini spirals. There was quinoa-based spaghetti; lasagna sheets made from beans and lentils; moong bean noodles that are excellent for slow carb, gluten-free, and paleo eaters; Japanese shirataki noodles made out of konjac yams; high-protein, vegan, gluten-free black bean spaghetti. Even a cauliflower pizza crust.
Then, there was the superfood war. The seeds puffing their nutrients and winning the battle. Pumpkin and chia moved over to let watermelon seeds feed every munch-lover. Chaga mushrooms emerged as the new kid-on-the-block edging out kale; a new breed of fancy cold-pressed nut oils came to town, from almond to cashew, walnut to hazelnut; vegans and vegetarians courted algae fats for the essential omega-3 fats (flaxseed can take a backseat for now!). In the berry front, it was Maqui berries, Chilean berries rich in vitamin C and antioxidant anthocyanins, purple in colour, bitter but packed with nutritional punch. If 2016 hailed the muscle and fat-burning benefits of beetroot, thanks to its nitric oxide content, 2017 brought blackcurrants to the centrestage. For the same reasons.
On super mart shelves were peeled oranges wrapped in cling; peaches shaped like a baby's bum; cherimoya, that Mark Twain described as the "most delicious fruit known to man" vied for glory; and yellow-red stripped returned to the aisles. But if these were not enough to lure everyone to eat fruits and vegetables, bottled fruit smoothies crowded for attention. The really-food-aware shunned it because a 15-ounce bottle can have 40 to 50 grams of sugar. That is about 10 to 12 teaspoons of sugar. Not a good trend. If you did not skip the bottled smoothie in 2017, walk past it in 2018.
For those who think smoothie is kid-food, rum was the new tequila in 2017, aquavit the new gin, and paloma (Mexico's most popular drink, which is a mix of tequila and grapefruit soda) was the next Moscow Mule (cocktail made with vodka, spicy ginger beer, and lime juice, garnished with a slice or wedge of lime).
As the year draws to a close, foodies around the world are beseeching the food-lord to kill a few 2017 food trends before they hop into 2018. Please, no more birizza (biryani pizza). No more of the Unicorn desserts - cupcakes, cake, doughnuts, cookies, macarons, ice creams jazzed up with food colouring, sprinkles, sparkles, and perhaps a horn, candy-floss mane and ears too. Never again freakshakes, topped with cream, cake, sauce and a handful of sweets. Food-lord, please make liquid nitrogen vanish on January 1, 2018. And last on the kill-list is deconstructed food. This food that the diner has to assemble himself is not classy. It is lazy. You can step on the weighing scale now. If it tips dangerously, eat healthy in 2018. Damn, the food trends.