What the Oughts Brought: Top 10 Innovations and Trends
What funny food trends have marked the last decade? And what innovations do we hope carry us into the middle ages of the millennium? Here are a few things that have kept our tongues wagging.
Photo by Marco Veringa Molecular gastronomy, one of ten major innovations and trends of the last decade.
Innovation: Molecular Gastronomy
Molecular gastronomy seeks to use scientific principles to understand and improve food preparation. While major cities around the nation play with the genre in jaw-dropping ways, Houston's only true mad scientist is Randy Rucker of the private Tenacity supper club. Rucker plays with ingredients and cooking methods to create outrageously picturesque dishes that taste even better than they look. Much like NASA, however, molecular gastronomy demands an exorbitant budget and is not for the faint of pocketbook. Perhaps the next decade will see us innovate a more accessible method, because food + science = fun.
Photo by karen_d
Americans like shortcuts. So when someone claimed that there's a set of "superfoods" out there that are strong enough to help you lower cholesterol, reduce your risk of cancer, and improve your mood, we jumped right on board. Turns out the alternate name of this movement is "eating healthy," and it's been around for centuries. We're certainly not knocking the health benefits of the so-called superfoods; in fact, we're happy to add blueberries, sweet potatoes, and dark chocolate to our diets. Rather, we're disagreeing with a moniker that uses these foods as a cure-all. Much like pretending your fork is an airplane to get your child to eat, doesn't this seem a little like a bait-and-switch for the general public?
Innovation: Sous Vide Cooking
Photo by Fotoos Van Robin
French for "under vacuum," sous vide is a cooking method designed to maintain the integrity of ingredients by sealing the ingredients and heating them for an extended time period at relatively low temperatures. High-end restaurants around town -- like Rainbow Lodge and Textile -- have been experimenting with this style for years to the smiles of clients and critics alike. VOICE, for example, features a lamb cooked sous vide for 24 hours that will melt even the most skeptical of hearts. The method seemingly alters the texture of the meat, but allows the crazylicious flavor to shine. We're certain this is the gateway to an even cooler cooking method; we're just not sure what that is yet.
Trend: Deconstructed Food
Photo by HarlanH
For a while it seemed like every high-end restaurant you went into had something "deconstructed" on the menu: ahi tuna rolls, Caesar salad, tacos, and more. While the deconstruction trend began as a method of satisfying curiosity -- after all, a tasty dish is the sum of its delicious parts -- it has become code for "put it together yourself, fool." While this trend makes for a beautiful presentation, it can also mean a confused (and sometimes angry) diner. Thankfully, it's in the downward spiral, and we have a new phase to look forward to: reconstruction and the industrial revolution.