I Heart Indies

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Coming Crisis in Trendy Foods

The Artist's Depiction of Hipsters
Admiring a Sweet Potato.
Which Goes to Show the Artist Has
No Concept of How Hipsters Look
I am very concerned about trendy foods.  In the previous century, where I still spend most of my time, there were a set number of foods available and everyone ate them, and no one complained, but then, there was a gradual explosion of new and trendy foods.  (Yes, I know explosions can't be gradual, but I couldn't think of another way to say it.)  

I believe it started way back when with the kiwi fruit.  Does anyone remember the first time you saw a kiwi fruit in the grocery store?  "What is it?  A mushy tennis ball?  A really old egg?  No, it's delicious."  Then came sushi.  Ah, sushi.  I've really come to love it, but there was a time I was put off by it, partly because of the notion of eating raw fish, and partly because of an unfortunate incident when I mistook a blob of wasabi for guacamole.

By the way, incredible as this may seem, guacamole was once a "new" food, at least in these parts.  And yes, I do realize, that these novelty foods were only new to us, and by "us," I mean benighted southerners who don't wear shoes in the summer and probably breed with their cousins.  I recall the first time my buddy Mark Silberman explained the concept of a bagel to me.  As he described it, it was sort of a doughnut, only not at all sweet, and chewy enough to pull out a filling, on which you smeared cream cheese - which I hadn't had at that time either - tomato, onion, and smoked salmon, which I'd also never had.  I cannot tell you how revolting I found the prospect of this melange of flavors and textures.  Since that time, of course, I've come to adore lox and bagels.  For a time, bagels were all the rage, and they mutated into varieties that would be inedible with smoked fish, for example, blueberry and cranberry bagels.

Whenever the excitement of a new food reached its apogee and public enthusiasm began to wane, the Novelty Food Industrial Complex could be relied upon to spring some new treat on the stage.  "I don't know about you, but I'm bored to death with edamame... say, have you tried this branzino?  It's delish!"

The first tremor of the coming implosion was the introduction of shrimp and grits as haute cuisine.  You can't throw a stick these days without hitting a restaurant that sells shrimp and grits.  Basically, some clown put shrimp, which everyone already knew about, and dumped them on grits, I repeat, grits, and called the result a flavor sensation.  Then, and the memory of this is only now beginning to fade, there came kale.  Kale, kale, kale.  There was sort of a frenzy about the thing.  Admittedly, I'd never knowingly eaten kale, but I was perfectly aware of its existence.  It was a green, alongside collards and mustards, and presumably, when boiled with a sufficient amount of side meat, indistinguishable from its more familiar cousins.  And yet the public, yearning for some new gustatory experience, jumped on this bandwagon like a, well, bandwagon.

What, the cognoscenti asked themselves, will they think of next?  What they thought of next was - get ready for this - the sweet potato.  When the next thing you think of is a sweet potato, it means you've run out of things to think of.  How bizarre the spectacle of hipsters oohing and ahhing over a - I still can't get over this - a sweet potato.  "Look at all the antioxidants!  And the Vitamin C."  I believe orange peel, which on occasion I do eat, has an equal amount of Vitamin C, and as far as antioxidants go, isn't that something they put in antifreeze?

Even as I write this, the sweet potato craze has passed, and Americans are nervously looking around and wondering what will come along to replace it.  Perhaps they dimly sense, it's over.  The last truly new food was edamame, and now, we're not only scraping the bottom of the barrel, we're clawing at it, and soon will come out the other side.

I can't say for certain what tired old standby will be foisted on the gullible public as the latest thing, but just in case - I'm investing heavily in turnips.

1 comment:

  1. Beets. They are showing up on every menu I've seen lately. Fried, raw, salads, etc. Beets, I tell ya.