They see a new interest in mushrooms, a rethinking of chicken and coffee, a resurgence of 1980s cocktails. And believe it or not, a return to civility.
Ingredient of the Year: Mushrooms
Mushrooms have landed on many prediction lists, in almost every form, from psilocybin mushrooms (part of the renewed interest in psychedelics) to thick coins of king oyster mushrooms as a stand-in for scallops. The number of small urban farms growing mushrooms is expected to bloom, and mushroom fibers will start to proliferate as a cheap, compostable medium for packaging.
Drink of the Year? Think Playful
Even in the age of no-alcohol cocktails, all those 1980s drinks you can barely remember (for obvious reasons) are coming back. Look for Blue Lagoons, Tequila Sunrises, Long Island iced tea and amaretto sours re-engineered with fresh juices, less sugar and better spirits. “We all need things that are sweet and colorful and joyful and playful, especially now,” said Andrew Freeman, president of AF & Co., the San Francisco consulting firm that for 14 years has published a popular food and hospitality trend report. (A corollary to the cocktails: the rise of ecospirits, made with ingredients from local farms or food waste, and packaged and shipped using climate-friendly methods.)
Seaweed, for All that Ails You
Kelp grows fast, has a stand-up nutritional profile and removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and nitrogen from the ocean. As a result, farmed kelp will move beyond dashi and the menus at some high-end restaurants and into everyday foods like pasta and salsa.
The third-wave coffee movement was built on arabica, the world’s most popular coffee. But climate change is threatening production and driving prices up, said Kara Nielsen, who tracks food and drink trends for WGSN, a consumer forecasting and consulting firm. Enter robusta, the bitter, heavily caffeinated workhorse that is less expensive and easier to cultivate. It is the predominant bean grown in Vietnam, where coffee is made with a metal filter called a phin and sweetened with condensed milk and sometimes an egg yolk. A new style of Vietnamese coffee shop is popping up in many American cities, promising to take the robusta right along with it.
Flavor of the Year...
Yuzu has its fans, but the even money is on hibiscus, which is adding its crimson hue and tart, earthy flavor to everything from cocktails and sodas to crudos and yogurt.
A Focus on India
With Covid limiting international travel in 2021, cooks in the United States explored regional American food. In 2022, regional foods from India will get a lot of attention, with deep dives into dishes from Gujarat, Kerala, Kashmir, Tamil Nadu and the Awadh area.
The 2022 Vibe: Kindness
With the supply chain in tatters and restaurant staffs stretched nearly to the breaking point, demanding shoppers and diners are out, and patience is in. A growing interest in the historical and cultural nature of food and its impact on the climate will only add to what forecasters (optimistically) say will be a new emphasis on kindness and understanding.
We’ve all gone through this stressful, anxious couple of years. A surprising willingness to extend empathy and understanding may be the biggest 2022 surprise of all!