From meat-free burgers and alcohol-free cocktails to exotic spices and powders made from nutritious vegetables, today’s diners and home cooks have an ever-changing wealth of ingredients and means of preparation to please their palates.
Every year, we see new food fads, hotly promoted raw materials or concoctions that are suddenly everywhere, and then suddenly, often, gone. Not all fads disappear, however. Some evolve into trends, and from trends into essential elements of our diet (consider once-obscure Italian greens like radicchio and arugula, once rarities in America and now impossible to avoid).
A trend is a fad with legs. Fads come and go, by definition. (More than 100 years ago, The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia defined a fad in it part as a “trivial fancy adopted and pursued for a time with irrational zeal.” The term’s etymology is uncertain, but it might derive from the Latin “fatuus,” meaning “stupid.”) Trends lend legitimacy to fads, and take our cooking and eating habits in new directions.
Fads from recent years, such as plant-based meat and Middle Eastern food evolved into full-scale trends, and are now virtually part of the mainstream. Others, such as poke bowls, never really made the transition, and though this Hawaiian raw-fish preparation may seem ubiquitous, restaurants serving versions of poke have been closing and filing for bankruptcy.
The fads and trends on the following list, in no particular order, are based on food-related news reported throughout the year, as well as on reports released by the National Restaurant Association, grocery stores such as Whole Foods, and dining guides such as the Guide Michelin.