If there's one thing I love about this time of year, (and I say this without sarcasm) it's every magazine putting out their "Best of 2008" issues. As the writers of cracked.com would tell you, everything is better in list format.
Time Magazine is among my favorite year-end issues, mainly because they put out a top 10 list of just about everything. This year, coincidentally, they added (at least, I believe it's new) the "Top 10 Food Trends of 2008."
It's a pretty interesting read, and so I thought I'd share it with you all, adding my own two cents where I can.
1. Recession dining
I think it goes without saying that every retrospective of 2008, regardless of topic, is going to incorporate the economy in some fashion. I've stated time and again how thankful I am how plentiful Austin is with restaurants that serve food that is healthy, natural, and inexpensive.
2. Nanny-state food regulations
I am 100% whole-heartedly behind this movement that forces restaurants to post the nutritional content of their menu items. Even for those who are not specifically counting calories, the caloric content of some of our favorite foods can be downright shocking. Personally, I think it's a bit embarrassing for big-name chains like Chili's to continually refuse to release their nutritional content. To me, this is like an electronics store refusing to list the prices of their items.
3. Salmonella Saintpaul
As an avid Mexican food lover, nothing was more disruptive this year than the salmonella outbreak. Just when they declared tomatoes safe again and we thought we could all go back to the salsa, they tell us the source of the outbreak was tainted jalapenos. D'oh!
4. The war on bottled water
Agreed. Everyone needs to cut this bottled water nonsense, buy a reusable bottle, and drink from the tap. If you don't like the taste, buy a Brita filter, but I'd be willing to bet if we gave you the Pepsi challenge, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
5. The Clover coffee maker
Sadly, I have not gotten a chance to try one of these out. For those of you who don't know, this $11,000 coffee maker supposedly brews the holy grail of coffee cups. You can be sure that my next trip back to the Bay Area will include a search for one of the Starbucks's carrying this bad boy.
6. Caffeinated foods
Not really sure how I feel about this one. I feel like as a nation, we're already consuming enough caffeine that we don't even feel it any more. I'm not sure if the next thing we need is to be putting it into our water and candy.
I love goat. Han can't stand it. What I didn't realize, though, is that it's both healthier and environmentally-friendly that many of the other meats we regularly consume. Cabrito for everyone!
8. The backlash against local food
Man, oh man. I've definitely felt this year that every new book or article I read tells me to completely change the way I eat. "Eat organic, it's better for you and the environment." "No, organic is a corporate conspiracy, eat local." "No, local is worse for the environment than big farm." I'm not sure we're ever going to get to the bottom of this, but in the meantime, I think an indisputable good rule-of-thumb (aside from generally avoiding red meat) is to not eat things that are out of season. That way you know it probably wasn't shipped in from halfway across the world and it hopefully isn't loaded with preservatives. I usually check eattheseasons.com as a guide. If nothing else, it makes decision-making at the grocery a bit easier.
9. The year's most celebrated chef
The chef they are referring to is Grant Achatz, the Chicago chef who came back from tongue cancer, of all things, and is now one of the leading experts in molecular gastronomy (the science of cooking). A very inspiring story indeed. I definitely think I'm going to try adding molecular gastronomy to my list of hobbies for 2009.
Yeah, that picture in the article looks delicious, and after a quick google search, I don't believe Austin has yet to offer any Mex-Italian restaurants. Anyone out there in blogville know of any? Be sure to send any recommendations my way!