Prohibited in 2012
Although we are two months into the “new year,” I thought it appropriate to add my name to the list of bloggers who release their obligatory list of food trends that should be given a leave of absence. Since I am still a novice as a “foodie,” not everything on this list may actually still be trending. It may just be that I finally opened my eyes and noticed these hot culinary curiosities. Or, you may find that these trends are already on their way out. In that case, I am just furthering their demise.
Let me qualify the below statements by saying that, if a gastro-movement makes this list, in no way does that mean I do not like that food or novelty. It simply means I would like to go to a restaurant or turn on a media source without being inundated with the culinary craze.
Let it begin.
1. Bacon/Pork Belly: I know, I know, I KNOW. I know what some are saying. “Everything is better with bacon.” “But Josh, I thought you loved bacon.” “Bacon is awesome!” “Seriously?” I can also hear some of you saying, “Ugh, no duh! Bacon is sooooo yesterday. This list is going to be lame.” To both camps: Hear me out.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE bacon. I love to buy slab bacon so I can slice it myself. I love to cook with bacon. I love it with vegetables, I love it in soups, and I love it wrapped around my pork chops. I would never say no to a bacon cheeseburger. I even went to a Bacon and Beer tasting at Paddy Longs. However, too much of anything is not good. And although everything may be better with bacon, that does not mean that everything should have bacon. Trust me. Whether in my kitchen or out and about, I have tried bacon on a lot of things. Not all were good. Actually, I don’t know if it’s that I am tired of the trend of bacon or that I am tired of everyone reacting to bacon like it’s the second coming of Jesus. Bacon on doughnuts, bacon in chocolate, bacon in comedy, bacon toffee, bacon milkshakes, bacon baby formula, bacon sodas, bacon, bacon, bacon! The word bacon has started to lose meaning to me. This salted/cured/smoked pork product has started to fall under the law of diminishing return. By the way, pork belly is the same as bacon. Although it is a little fattier, it is just bacon with a dressed-up name so they can use it on Top Chef and in hip trendy gastro pubs to create an attitude of , “My food is better than yours because I use pork belly and you use plain ol’ bacon.” Get over yourself.
2. Cupcakes*: Cupcakes can be delicious. Unfortunately, there are too many people out there who think they can make delectable cupcakes. The truth is, many of them can’t. There are bakeries and confectioners popping up all over the place. There are even cupcake food trucks. The problem is, a lot of these places don’t make good cupcakes. I agree, cupcakes are cute and cupcakes are easier to handle on the go than say, a Bundt cake, but that’s not enough for me anymore. Not only have most of the trendy cupcakes I have tried been bland, dry, and overly iced, but they have also been uber expensive. Some cupcakes are reaching $4.00 or more a piece! Even the “mini” cupcakes are a couple of dollars. Seriously?! It’s cake batter topped with icing. That costs you what? $.25 each? Don’t even get me started on cupcakes topped with bacon.
3. Mac & Cheese: Much like the cupcakes mentioned above, macaroni and cheese can be one of the best comfort foods on the planet. In fact, I love mac & chesse. I even go to The Southern Mac food truck for lunch on occasion. However, just because something can be wonderful, doesn’t mean that everyone can make it as such. This is also one of those dishes that people insist tastes better with bacon. That may be true, but enough already. It’s not that I am tired of elbows and cheddar. It is more that I am tired of everyone offering it on their menus, cookbooks, and cooking shows like is some long lost invention that has recently been rediscovered in a tomb deep inside the ancient pyramids in Egypt. Many times, when I order mac & cheese, it is dry, overcooked, or has been sitting in a large chaffing pan for hours under a heat lamp and has become one solid mass of pasta and gluey cheese. I think the real problem for me is that (like the other entrants on this list) I am tired of seeing it everywhere I turn. Everyone has it and everyone’s is the best. Just give it a rest for a while and try something else. However, with the Southern food craze going full steam (which I really enjoy), I do not see this dying anytime soon.
4. Television Cooking/Food Contests: Although I love to cook and love to find inspiration to cook, I am sick and tired of watching hipster doofuses with faux-hawks dripping with ironic attitudes and fashion, running around pantries and local markets creating dishes I would never eat or attempt to make myself. A lot of these budding chefs already have problems with exaggerated egos. They do not need winning a competition against other culinary graduates with chopped-up dos to further inflate their self-importance. It’s not just the contestants. Many of the judges are egotistical, semi-famous critics or chefs, who believe that their opinions are the end-all-be-all to great cuisine. These pretentious critics beget pretentious chefs who in turn beget pretentious restaurants or “gastro-pubs.” There are a few cooking reality shows I will watch. However, for the most part, they need to all go away. Top Chef, Chopped, and Ultimate Cake Off and any other bake-offs, can go back on the shelf, in the back of the cupboard.
So that’s it. There is my short list of kitchen creations that have been over-played, over-hyped, and over-done in 2011. I can’t wait to see what will annoy me by the end of 2012. Feel free to add to the list in the comments below.
* Full disclosure: My wife and I had cupcakes at our wedding from Bittersweet. They were delicious.