We spoke with Suzy Badaracco, president of Culinary Tides, a company that focuses on trends in the food industry, to get her insight into what to eat (and drink) this fall.
Grains are back in the spotlight this fall after being overshadowed by the gluten-free craze that's been sweeping the country. "Grains rebound as gluten-free repositions and downsizes to an appropriate audience," says Badaracco. "80 percent of consumers who do not medically need a gluten-free diet will abandon it." She sees grains like teff, steel-cut oats, kasha, farro and buckwheat finding their way into more home kitchens this fall.
Tart cherries, both dried and fresh, are what Badaracco refers to as "this fall's cranberry." In addition to being ideal for baking into pies and tarts, made into sauces or preserved, tart cherries are also being recognized for several health benefits, including their high antioxidant properties. Not to mention, you can get them close to home. "They're local to the USA so it is easy to get ahold of and can be found in its fresh form unlike goji or acai, which are less approachable."
What you drink this fall will be getting a more localized focus. "Martinis, daiquiris, etc., are being made with regional ingredients such as berries in the Northwest, cherries in the upper Midwest, or lime in Deep South," explains Badaracco. She adds that beverages regionalizing also refers to a rise in the popularity of regional beverages such as smashes and mojitos from Cuba, mint juleps from the South, tiki drinks from the East and Sazerac from New Orleans.
Comfort fusion is coming to a bakery or grocery store near you this fall. We've heard about fusion cuisine — mixing Asian with Western ingredients for example, but this fusion is all about comfort. "Cronuts are an example of two familiar, nonthreatening items fusing into something new to elevate the interest but not decrease its approachability," says Badaracco. If you're not sure, cronuts are a cross between a croissant and a doughnut, so who knows what's next: pies fused with cupcakes?
Wine, too is taking a twist this fall with some bottles you may not recognize. "Wines cross borders to unfamiliar regions and varietals. Think English sparkling wines, or wines from Uruguay," says Badaracco. She explains this is due, in part, to recession recovery, wherein consumers are less fearful and more experimental with food and beverages.
Cooking techniques are going back to basics this fall, as in back to where cooking began. Badaracco cites open flame such as cowboy cooking, wood fire ovens, slate grilled barbecue and clinching (cooking directly on coals), as things to watch for this fall. Not only does this type of cooking impart a rich, smoky flavor, it can be a lot of fun — as long as you're careful.
If the only dairy products in your fridge are cheddar cheese and half-and-half, this fall you might feel like trying something a little different. Global dairy such as Lebanese yogurt, paneer and burrata are gaining popularity, Badaracco tells us. "Diary has nowhere to go but more global, with Greek yogurt opening to door to other global dairy entrants," she explains.
Move over ketchup and mustard, food this fall will be getting a flavor boost from a few lesser-known (for now) condiments. Badaracco mentions gochujang, a dark red fermented chili paste from Korea and harissa, a hot red chili paste used in North African cooking as two examples of up-and-coming condiments. "Global sauces and ethnic condiments track in with the cuisine and foods of their region," she explains. This means that popular cuisines like Korean, are also starting to give us new ways to spice up our food.
Pie never really goes out of style, but for fall watch as pies take a trendy turn. "Pies, from hand-held to minis to pie for two, will be the regional replacement for cupcakes," says Badaracco. "Pies can go savory or sweet, local or global, so are much more flexible than cupcakes ever could be."
Healthy, sustainable and easy to add to your meals, fresh or canned sardines, are a little fish on the rise, Badaracco says. Add sardines to salads, grill them, highlight them in pasta dishes, or batter and fry them up and eat them as is or in a sandwich.
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