The Huffington Post has succumbed to the temptation of food trends lists. While the Huff-P does politics like everybody's business, why are they now trying to convince the dining public that they're eating more bugs, that pimento cheese is suddenly cool and that macarons are falling from the heavens? Maybe, just maybe, they should stick to reporting Newt Gingrich's latest gas exhalations.
Here's our assessment of the Huff-P's "The 11 Biggest Food Trends of 2011." Although there are a couple of hits, the misses come early -- and often.
2011's popular cuisine continued the recent trend of previous years: economically-insecure, comfortable peasant food. Meatballs fall roundly into this category, but if the Huff-P is basing its meatball madness on sales of Subway's $5 footlong soy-meat monstrosity, then it's possible that this selection isn't too far off the mark.
Apparently meat-cutting is hot, and our white-coated animal-slashers deserve a seat at the trend table. Watching a bloody carcass being sliced and diced never really gets old, but imagining that high-end cuts of meat are more popular when folks have less expendable income may be a stretch in the wrong direction.
Campari+gin+sweet vermouth=a Negroni cocktail, but since hipsters re-discovered Campari after getting bored with Pimm's, this cocktail isn't so much a trend as it is a quick flip-flop until hipster re-discover Pimm's again next month.
It's not clear why these confections have been creeping their way onto so many damn lists over the last couple of years, but they've been described as a future trend, a current trend and now a past trend, all without any real evidence of them ever being trendy at all.
7. Upmarket fried chicken.
Ummm...really? Until Brad and Angelina are photographed sucking on a bucket of legs and thighs, it will continue to be unbelievable that fried chicken of any kind has hit the big time.
This Huffington Post trend is legit. Foraging for weird, cool and delicious fruits, vegetables and whatever else can be found in urban, suburban and rural locations is not only hip, it's cost-effective. Hell, with the current economic climate, dumpster-diving may soon be not just a trend, but a lifestyle.
5. Pimento cheese.
If this blend of Cheddar, mayo and canned/jarred red peppers has moved from the trailers to the mansions, then it's only a matter of minutes before that red Jello-soaked vanilla sheet cake with the Cool-Whip topping is the haughtiest of haute cuisine.
4. Unfamiliar Chinese food flavors.
The idea that "unfamiliar" flavors have trended their way into our American-bred sesame chicken consciousness is a good one, but could it be that smart restaurant chefs have taken to serving the good stuff to the general public that they used to only make for themselves at break times? We can only hope, because anyone who's eaten lackluster crap from a Chinese buffet while watching the employees bring out plates of the great food from the back knows that we have been getting the golden shaft for years.
3. Cocktail bitters.
Again, hipsters have re-discovered bitters, and since they can afford to spend more dough on vintage clothes than the boring straights spend on new threads, catering to them by adding new flavors to an old mixer is a piece of marketing genius that deserves recognition on more than a few lists.
2. Fancy donuts.
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The fact that people are catching on to doughnut boutiques like Voodoo Donut is a heartening development, and now that the Atkins diet is just as dead as the cupcake trend should be, that leaves a carby marketing niche dying to be filled like a Bismarck.
According to the Huff-P, people are eating more insects. Maybe all these seasons of watching Andrew Zimmern chow down on bugs has accustomed the eating public to the cost-effective and nutritive value of vermin. Or maybe bugs really are being eaten in record numbers to the point of being trendy. Because there's no friggin' way that anyone would ever make this up for the hell of it.