I’ve learned a lot since I first moved to London five years ago: how to catch a tube; which restaurants deserve my hard-earned cash on a Saturday night; the oh-so-important difference between a Sweet, Dry or Perfect Manhattan.
And that literally any food can be used as a substitute for a burger bun if you’re single-minded enough: brioche, waffles, noodles, pasta, donuts and lettuce. Because if there’s anything we Londoners love, it’s a fast-moving food fad.
Just take this past year. 2015 was the year we became strangely obsessed with eggs, scarfing down egg burgers at Egg Break and topping every breakfast food in sight with a gently poached one. Chef Michael Roux Sr. is enamoured with this ‘most fragile [and] faithful kitchen companion’, calling it a ‘genius in all forms’. Big talk indeed for the humble chicken egg!
We stopped using stock and started banging on about bone broth. Carbohydrates were once again ousted from our diets as we accepted fats back with open arms, going so far as to glob butter in our AM coffee. The toast of the town was coconut, any way it came: coconut oil, coconut sugar, coconut milk.
Kale was out, cauliflower was in; and, boy, was it everywhere! From Cauliflower Shawarma at Berber & Q to Ottolenghi’s Whole Roasted Cauliflower, or even Cauli-Crust pizza at home, the humble brassica oleracea became a force to be reckoned with!
And cauli wasn’t the only so-called ‘Alt-Carb’. This year Marks & Spencer sold an astounding 37 tonnes of courgettes each month as the Hemsley sisters created a craze for spiraliser courgetti. Sweet potato was popular too, most likely due to Ella Woodward’s virtuous Sweet Potato Brownie recipe, with sales up more than 64% over a year! These trends left traditional suppertime starches by the wayside, with sales for both pasta and potatoes in a slump.
Following in the footsteps of New Yorkers, this year we began calling for hot sauce and lots of it! Not only were sales of table sauces up by more than 7%, the vast majority of these sales were for spicy condiments like Hot Pepper, Peri Peri and Sriracha. This trend is showing no sign of slowing down either, as global sales of hot sauce are expected to exceed $2.5bn in the next five years.
What can we expect in 2016? Well, there’s definitely still potential for veg! Artichoke, birch and aloe are also seeing new popularity as health waters, and I’ve got my fingers crossed for the rise of the humble mushroom in the kitchen!