If you are already sick of pumpkin pie — or pumpkin spice, for that matter — maybe it's time to consider some of the newer foods on the horizon. For example, poke.
Katie Sutton, vice president of culinary innovation at the food trend-watching company Food & Drink Resources, was kind enough to clue me in to some of the latest food trends, beginning with the Hawaiian dish of raw fish cubes marinated and served in a bowl, sometimes with rice. (It's pronounced POH'-kay.)
Having once been absolutely positive that sushi was going to prove to be a flash in the pan (or, more accurately, a flash in the non-pan, because it's raw), I feel reluctant to predict a quick demise for this new fad. But really, how many Hawaiian creations have made it to the big time and stayed there?
For now, though, poke is so popular that it is already cross-pollinating with other foods, leading to such items as the poke burrito. Meantime, the "phorrito" is another rising star. That's a burrito filled with pho — a Vietnamese soup of braised meat, herbs and noodles. All of which leads me to my first food theory: Wrap a burrito around anything that's already delicious and it will be a hit.
Theory No. 2 is this: The gloppier the better, which is why we're talking about eating a wrap filled with soup. But you can also see this trend with egg sandwiches. Sutton pointed to a West Coast restaurant called Eggslut, famous for the runniest eggs around.
Another big trend she's seeing is fruit soups. "It's like taking a smoothie and dumping it into a bowl and putting chunks of fruit into it," she said. So here's my third food theory: Anything chunked and put into a bowl is going to be a hit.
And then there's dark food on dark plates. After what feels like a century of ever lighter cuisine, Sutton says the trend has done a 180. Charring — once known as "overdone," "burnt" or "ruined" in my family — is now one of the two hippest methods for preparing vegetables. (The other is deep-frying, which I heartily endorse.) Sutton herself has started charring her salad greens on the grill, which I could understand if they got kind of pleasantly caramelized. But I tried charred broccoli recently and simply cannot understand why my own, equally unhip method of broccoli prep — steaming it till it's bendably soft and slightly gray — lost out. Douse really soft broccoli in melted butter and I say yum.
Of course, I say that when you douse almost anything in melted butter. (I'm convinced that's why lobster made it big — the shameless butter dipping it made chic.)
And speaking of dipping, the last food trend we've got time for today is deconstructed ramen, called tsukemen. The noodles are separate from the broth. You dip them in and slurp them down.
Slurping, glopping, chunking and wrapping are clearly the order of the day.
And any obscure and undiscovered cuisine that bursts onto the scene next year will be wrapped in a burrito by 2018.
Lenore Skenazy is author of the book and blog "Free-Range Kids" and a keynote speaker at conferences, companies and schools. Her TV show, "World's Worst Mom," airs on Discovery Life. To find out more about Lenore Skenazy ([email protected]) and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.