Cafe Society

Top five food trends we hope will end in 2010

There is still time for a last-minute purge of food trends that need to take a permanent nap where the turnips grow. Like that 47-year-old guy in the club who needs to scrub the Axe spray off his hairy torso and go home, these trends have stuck around too long. So make some room in the great culinary dumpster next to Asian fusion, cupcakes and chocolate martinis, because here comes our top five food trends that we hope will end in 2010:

5. Adulterated spinach-artichoke dip. This appetizer turned into a joke long before 2010, but adding other stuff like hunks of fake crab, strings of seaweed or an heirloom-tomato chutney is not going to kick-start a miraculous rebirth. Keep it on the menu, by all means, but quit frontin'.

4. Blood oranges. These magenta-hued juice-drippers sure are purty on the inside, but there is not enough difference between the bloods and the navels to warrant the cost differential, unless you put a monetary value on turning polo shirts into Jackson Pollock paintings at summer barbecues. Blood oranges keep creeping into recipes and dishes where regular oranges don't even belong, like eggnog and polenta -- shudder. Eat one, enjoy the five minutes of sticky novelty and then move on. 3. Grilled prosciutto-wrapped hors d'oeuvre. When prosciutto is grilled, it takes on the texture of a steel-belted radial tire. Then, when rolled around something else and skewered with a burnt toothpick, it's so tough it denies access to whatever softer treat it's wrapped around. How many times have we all stood at cocktail parties fruitlessly gnawing at that unyielding strip of ham, trying to get at that cream cheese-stuffed date or asparagus spear? It's a zero sum game, so make it stop. 2. The buzz over "live and active cultures" in yogurt. Yogurt has been documented in Western diets as far back as 1542. It's been around even longer than that, and -- wait for the shocker -- it's been chock-full of the "good" bacteria this whole time. Unless, of course, it's been heat-pasteurized, shelf-stabilized with starch or gelatin, loaded with sugary flavorings or fruit, or any combination of those things. The marketing genius behind this yogurt trend is commendable, because telling Americans that yogurt makes you poop better is great for sales. (Dannon Co. did lose a bit when it got sued last year for false advertising, but what's $35 million?) Yogurt is great: Keep eating it, but Jesus-probiotic-Christ, check your labels and quit perpetuating the idea that eating vanilla-caramel-strawberry-extra-creamy-custard-delight flavors are actually good for you.

1. Kobe beef burgers, meatloaf and chili. Pure Japanese Kobe beef has dwindled into an urban legend, but its bastardized American replication, Wagyu beef, has an amazing texture, elegant marbling and a dramatic flavor that is luscious, foxy and saline. It's spiritually felonious to decimate the structural integrity of this meat by grinding it, cutting it with breadcrumbs and bell peppers or slopping it into a pot with pinto beans and tomato paste. Restaurants can't afford to throw it away when it doesn't sell, and utilizing the leftover scraps is understandable, but grounding it for burgers and such is an abominable screw-over for restaurants to patronize bourgeois beef rubes. Please stop this before Wagyu beef ends up diced in a can, on a shelf at Walmart.

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Jenn Wohletz
Contact: Jenn Wohletz