What really is the difference between food fad and food trend? Are they interchangeable? Or are they applied according to one's perspective of what is hot and what is not? Some pretentious foodies use the term 'fad' more than 'trend', food service professionals watch out for the latter. Some are confused. Others couldn't care less. But here is my take: A trend is something that is coming up to be exciting today, will be hot tomorrow, and will be the springboard for innovation and development in the future. A fad is merely a flash in pan. What is hot now could be 'oh-so-yesterday' the next millisecond. Paris Hilton shallowness aside, some of us do make a monumental effort of being ahead of the pack, not in terms of going with the flow, but being up-to-date on what is happening in the world of culinary wonders and delights. Chefs generally want to know what the other chefs are doing, and see if the direction is in sync or diverging, good way or bad. Foodies, gourmands want something new, something different, comforting or familiar. Other individuals follow what people on television tell them is exciting now. The food zombies and the pretentious foodies kiss the ground Oprah walks on, gets into a frenzy when they could not find the artisanal Olive oil mix that Ms. Winfrey has recommended because they 'just have to have it' for the sole reason that they want to feel that they are in the know. It is really difficult to put into words to describe how one should be part of a food trend or fad, or merely to be a spectator on the sidelines. I read once on a shirt that seem close to what I mean, but not exactly. It does apply though to what I think of people who are so concerned with keeping with appearances and the Joneses.
'You laugh because I am different. I laugh because you are all the same'
Now trends and fads can be viewed through different perspectives. And it is the general vox populi that puts whichever on the forefront, depending on what the ‘in’ thing is as of that moment. Like may perspectives, opinions are rife, and based on an individual’s personal experience, would put a chalk mark against what deems to be popular, and what deems to be trendy. In either case, do we follow trends and fads because of what somebody else discovered to be and tells us? Or are we pathfinders who discover it ourselves? Try the following. Then decide which side of that fence you are on.
Cupcakes were a fad. The delightfully decorated treats seemed more functional than cool. No mess. No cutting. Portable. But do you really want to line up shell out that much money for a piece of cake that is less than the size of a tennis ball? Besides, what satisfaction can you get other than sugary jittery highs?
Street Food. Yeah. It's all the rage now. Because we now look for simple comfort food that screams casual, no stiff collars and no pretentions. Fast Food, but without the synthetic non biodegradable packaging. But street food as we know it has been around for ages. We are noticing it now because we look for the real thing.
Chocolate Fountain. And in their many forms. Usually found lately at many dessert buffet tables, surrounded by diners who can get enough of the addictive goo. The novelty of this that we are free to dip whatever into the falls, and just hang around for the next fix. It’s a messy affair, and magic disappears once you are walk away for more than three feet.
Greenhorn Culinary Schools. Specifically the culinary and hotel management schools that have no tradition and just recently opened shop to join the now popular ‘celebrity chef’ bandwagon. Like the profession, it takes years and years of professional experience and credibility to be able to teach others on the finer points of cooking. If you want to become a chef, go to a reputable culinary school that has an established record. Not one who started as an IT educational institute.
Burgers. Because there are so many burger joints nowadays to cater to every individual taste, you would be hard pressed to find one that does not appeal to your taste buds. But as it nears the numbers of the local McD’s, are we reaching a plateau of over saturation?
Healthy living with Omega 3. Take the pill instead. With the mercury found in so many omega-3 rich fishes and the overfishing problem, it can literally make you sick.
Molecular Gastronomy. The marriage off food and science is not new, this fad has created fancy kitchen gadgetry that rivals even the most adventurous mad scientist. Unfortunately, the movement reduced the enjoyment to mere gimmickry. And not a lot of cooks and chefs have the time to really do in depth science experiments, so do not expect and El Bulli clone to open shop around the corner any time soon.
Frozen yoghurt. That dessert popularized in that Sex in the City series, it has created a following because of it’s healthier benefits over ice cream. It can be tailored to every specific taste and palate, creating more varieties and permutations. Restaurants have started offering up in their menus, and is driving guests to veer away from the usual.
Home Grown Produce. Because fresh produce is healthier option over mass produced veggies inundated with chemicals and GMO. Because fresh produce are nutritionally superior and more advantageous.Because local produce uses less foosil fuel for transportation, storage and preparation. Buy local. It also helps the farmer get most of the profits and by cause and effect improve his quality of life and yours.
Slow food. Real cooking made with tradition. With the sprouting like weeds of every fast food joint imaginable, it is welcoming that real cooking instead of cookie cutter manufactured food stuffs are still around and lately being rediscovered. In essence, to dine at your own pace, to savor every morsel. As more people are looking for value for money, they want to be able to enjoy the food they purchase, with friends and family. Comfort food that heal during difficult times.
Pickled anything. Ginger, Asparagus. Garlic. You name it. Thanks to the Asian community, this new movement in cooking can really add to the repertoire. By itself pickled foods are great, and making it a part of the bigger picture will prove that it will stay for years to come.
The popularity of the butcher. Yes, that guy behind the meat counter that can carve out your cuts the way you want it. Many are now discovering that the butcher is a deep well of knowledge when it comes to specific cuts and they way they need to be cooked. Next to the chef, he is the guy that would most likely know how much marbling you need, or if this part of the cow is good for stewing.
Asian and Ethnic foods. With the dawn of globalization, the rest of the world is discovering the magic of Asian Cooking. The fascination with exotic flavors and ingredients have been fueled by the introduction of such recipes in local communities.
Foodies. Because more and more of these individuals are pushing the culinary envelope. They are knowledgeable now in the ways of cooking and entertainment. Instead of subsisting on TV dinners and instant noodles, foodies emerge as a force that indicates the state of everything culinary.
Healthy Household. Americans are looking to create a healthy household. Approximately 57% of shoppers are making a lot of effort to eat healthier. With half (53%) of adults controlling their diet—61% for weight, 36% cholesterol, 22% blood sugar, 18% high blood pressure, and 14% diabetes. Babies and young children also drive healthier household eating. Popular trends include DHA for brain and eye development and probiotics for digestive health. In recent years, sales of healthful kids’ foods have outsold regular kids’ products 3:14. With 28% of parents admitting that they have an overweight child and one in eight kids having two or more risk factors for heart disease later in life, the number three concern of moms, after immunity and growth/development, is now healthy kids foods.
Food vetting. Yes, sustainable is going mainstream. Food sourcing might be old news to foodies, but a growing number will opt for organics and sustainable practices. That includes eating fresh, local and seasonal foods as much as possible and buying products with sustainable or biodegradable packaging. Farmers markets are hotter this year than last, as people search for food they can trust and vendors they know. And the foodies? They might go for less precious items and make more down-to-earth choices.
Olive oil alternatives. Particularly grapeseed oil. Due to additional health benefits, grapeseed oil is also more wallet friendly, has a higher smoke point, and does not decay as fast.
If a tend turns out to be a fad, or a fad turns out to be a trend, it really is all a matter of perspective. This list is not definitive. Not at all. It just the tip of the whipped cream iceberg. Do you know of a fad or trend that I missed? Would love to hear about it! Post it up here for everybody else to take a gander at.