Fashion-forward foodies foretell future food

By Judy Schultz.

As the year begins to wind down, we who are obsessed with food start rolling the dice.

Will 2014 find us still drinking coconut water and eating kale by the bale? Will we continue to spurn curly parsley but love flat leaf, even though both of them taste like grass?

It’s all about what’s in and what’s out.

Food in Tubes. It’s in. Once the sole property of science fiction and space missions, food-in-tubes is the handiest invention since sliced bread. Not just wasabi and anchovy paste, useful as they are, but you gotta love those refrigerated tubes of organic herbs from Australia. A smooth, aromatic purée of organic lemon grass in a tube? Genius.

Food in Trucks. It’s so in. Love those pop-up restaurants peddling their delicious road food. In Edmonton we’ve gone from a handful two years ago to dozens this past summer. Long may they roll.

Sumptuous Fats. Totally in. Bacon is beloved, including bacon jam and bacon ice cream. Lard is back, improving pastries everywhere. Love the butter, hail to the cheese. Watch for spreadable lard from Italy.

Lettuce. In. This past summer there were more than 100 varieties (as distinct from types, of which there are still seven if you include Chinese types) but those lettuce varieties just keep coming. In New Zealand, my January lettuce crop includes a red-leaf variety called Drunken Woman. Why? I’m told it’s “Because the leaves are floppy and they blush.” Oh, well.

Kale. Completely in. About three years ago, some clever chef discovered that the rubbery leaves gracing his buffet table were edible. Now we can’t get enough kale. Not one, but six different varieties are making the rounds this year (Russian, Italian, curly, etc.). Love it fried with bacon, folded into hot mashed potatoes. Blob of butter, splash of cream, YUM!

Grains and seeds. They’re so in, you’d think we were all squirrels. At the moment, spelt and farro trump quinoa. Nobody knows why. The trick is to buy them pearled, as opposed to hulled. Cooking pearled grains and seeds is child’s play; it’s on the table in minutes.

But! The same grain/seed, merely hulled, can turn into the Boston Marathon of cookery requiring an eight-hour soak before it goes into the pot to boil.

Heidi Julavits, writing in the New York Times, didn’t know that when she decided to cook unpearled spelt.

“We cooked our spelt for four hours… threw in multiple sticks of butter, gallons of stock and $13 worth of grated Parmesan, but the spelt remained flavour-impervious,” said Heidi.

She knows better now.

Garlic Press. Out with the garlic press. Anthony Bourdain hates this handy tool, and forbids its use in his kitchen.

Me? I love my garlic press, but then I’ve never been a fashion-forward woman.

Offal. Out. Apologies to those bold chefs now doing the nose-to-tail thing, but for me, offal is awful, (forgive the pun).

It’s a textural thing, or maybe the way it smells when it’s cooking, but I cannot deal with kidney, tongue, heart, either variety of tripe, or any of the other bits and bobs. And I am not alone.

Applause for chefs who serve every scrap of the animal, including beef bone marrow. But I still think offal is… well, you know.

One exception: livers of goose or duck can be absolutely scrumptious. Sauté them in butter, chop them with garlic and parsley, add a good bash of cream, more butter, big slug of cognac. Whiz the mixture in a blender until it’s smooth, and spread liberally on toasted baguette. Absolutely yum!

Plus, you can’t taste the liver, and that’s a good thing.

Judy Schultz is a food and travel writer who’d walk over hot coals to avoid eating tripe.