The Food Network (TFN) is unique. And its place as the primo food TV outlet in North America earns it the privilege of making food trend predictions for 2024 that carry considerable weight. But I don’t agree with all of them…
Shakshuka: From West Africa. Just one Third Culture Cuisine
we would all do well to be more familiar with…
The list contains 11 prognostications this year. And I give some of them my unqualified endorsement. Others, I can’t support, for a variety of reasons.
‘Remixed’ French Pastries
Remixed? I have trouble with any notion that involves messing with the classics. I didn’t approve of the Cronut. Nor did I aprove of oyther puff pastry ‘creations’ that surfaced briefly in the 2010s.
“Bakers and recipe creators are reimagining classic French desserts,” TFN asserts. “From TikTok’s viral upside-down puff pastries to The New York Times’ 2023 assertion that “We Will Never Reach Peak Croissant.”
TFN calls the new French Pastries, “little luxuries we crave.” Maybe so. But only the rich can afford them.
I can definitely get on the bandwagon for this one. We got a Breville countertop convention oven three years ago, and we’ve hardly used the conventional oven in our stove since. The Breville broils, bakes, and even air frys. And more. Best pizzas we’ve ever made! Best French Fries, too. We probably won’t deep fry again, unless we’re dealing with battered foods.
’21st Century’ Frozen Foods
I’m of two minds on this one. While the photos on the packages look great, I’ve been disappointed – even felt betrayed by the makers – on more than one occasion, when the contents didn’t live up to the hype. I’ll stick to frozen pizzas in clear plastic wrap – through which I can objectively evaluate the relative abundance of their toppings – rather than chance buying anything in a box. And even then, I’ll add more toppings and more cheese when I get home. Or just make my own crust and assemble a totally custom pie.
Too many ‘new’ frozen foods I’ve tried have turned out to be way too heavy on the pastry and dismally short on the fillings. Shrinkflation, skimpflation and other sneaky, maddening practices by manufacturers have made me permanently skeptical.
Plant-Based Products will proliferate
Not really a new story, TFN! But good to see you believe Plant Based foods will be more visible and available in the supermarkets this coming year. As they should be!
Food and Gaming Collabs
We see about a dozen of these a year. Fast Food and Snacks makers partner with video game developers to promote the release of new titles. That’s because of the iron-clad connection between sitting in front of the screen and eating junk. Worth noting also is the heavy promotion the Fast Food chains have been pounding us with, to ‘encourage’ us to use their mobile and online ordering systems. Tied-in, of course, with delivery. What more could a gaming addict ask for? The cash to support their junk food gaming lifestyle, perhaps?
White Chocolate goes Gourmet?
Not in my house. It’s simply not real chocolate, for one thing. But it’s been getting more attention among upper-class chocofans. So much so that White Chocolate sales increased by a whopping (US)$9 billion, or over 5 percent, last year. I believe this is not a true trend, but one of those monster fads that will die down in a few months or a year. As it should.
Third Culture Cuisine
Yes! I’ve been saying this for ages. And I even did a globe-girdling series of posts about the indigenous specialties of a long list of ‘Third Culture Cuisines’. (Plug ‘expedition to’ into site search!) But aside from enjoying the fresh (to us) new flavours and styles of cooking, we can all learn a great deal about how to move to a plant-dominated diet over the next couple of decades. That’s going to be inescapable, as climate change and sustainability issues escalate.
No. Not than I can see. TFN says Bob (tapioca balls) will ‘go beyond the glass’ this year. The glass, of course, is the generic, universal beverage glass, which might contain fruit juice, tea, coffee or other drinkables. I had thought Boba has just about run its course as a big fad, though never a real trend. Maybe I’m wrong. TFN says, “These days, the flavors and textures of boba are all over the snack aisle.” We’ll see…
Shoppers want more
As in, we want more value from what we buy. “Deinfluencing, or social content creators who encourage people to buy fewer and more sustainable products, picked up steam at the beginning of 2023. As the year progressed, Vox encouraged us to learn how to buy less stuff, and 54% of those surveyed by appliance company Beko said that they prefer durable designs to passing kitchen trends.” ‘Passing trends’, of course, are mere fads. Like fast fashion. Use a few times and discard. Like most of the ‘nifty kitchen gadgets’ you get from well-meaning family and friends at Christmas or on your birthday.
I’ve been saying this for over a decade. Get a good set of kitchen knives and they’ll serve you for a lifetime. Get good pots and pans and you won’t need to buy them again. Same with appliances. I’ve had my Braun spice grinder (actually a repurposed $19.99 coffee grinder) for almost 20 years now. Still going strong.
Parents will lead conversations about food
If it’s true, it’s wonderful! Parents stepping up and taking responsibility for what their kids eat and the attitudes kids develop towards food.
“For the 7 out of 10 American parents who reportedly worry about the effect of social media, editing apps and diet culture on their kids’ body images, there’s an emerging school of thought from experts like author Virginia Sole-Smith: stop calling certain foods ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or using food as a reward.” The millennials, Xs and Zs now having kids are already more body- and health-aware than their Boomer forebears. Their common sense should help them find their way..
Overall, the Food Network trend predictions seem to take two parallel roads. Along one, we find foodie-inspired notions that more often than not are non-functional, total frills. Some even potentially bad for us. Do we really need to elevate Junk Food/Gaming collabs, Boba, White Chocolate or ‘Remixed’ French Pastries to the level of much more important issues? Why promote them? The answer is simple. Many are the work of TFN advertisers and supporters.
The great mass of us – everyone whose lifestyle has been affected by rising food prices – can’t afford frills and non-essentials anymore. And I think at least some of us resent the well-off TV celebrity chefs and Food Network execs who can afford frills for suggesting them to us.
Along the other road, however, we find major pronouncements founded in common sense, and a sense of history unfolding in the foodsphere. And that’s a very good thing, indeed!
~ Maggie J.