Monday, April 14, 2008

Trendy Monday: Michael Ruhlman's Readers Weigh In

Last week, chef Michael Ruhlman asked the readers of his blog to give him their opinions regarding up and coming food trends for home cooks. And oh, did they.

There are a lot of comments, but a skim through is worth it - it's interesting to see what other people are thinking. Although, it won't be surprising to anybody who's even slightly followed food trends lately. There's a lot of talk of local/homegrown/DIY/etc, both in relation to quality and the economy. Several commenters riff on the economy even further, saying they expect more of a return to "cheap cuts" - though others talk about highly specialized or unusual spices making their way out of the restaurant and into home kitchens.

The two things that most interested me were speculation about a rise in South American flavors, which I totally see and am happy to see, and an interest in raw milk and raw milk cheeses. Just in the past couple of weeks I've been hearing inklings of a raw milk revolution, at least among foodies. Hey, if you know your dairyman, why not?

That said, there was also a fair amount of discussion about whether the trends mentioned are just foodie trends, or if they're likely to trickle down to the rest of the population. My take is that the trends always start with the people who are most engaged. It really wasn't that long ago that only those seriously in the know were eating salsa.

I think that the local movement is most likely to trickle down. More than raw milks or home sous-vides, at least. Really, economically, local eating can make a lot of sense - so there's that. Plus, the movement's got critical mass - you can't open a magazine or the newspaper without seeing something about local eating. All it would take is one major restaurant chain to make a commitment to local purchasing - and they could do it, though they might have to bump prices a tiny bit - and the movement would officially be mainstreamed.

It's a long thread of comments, but worth it if you're into that sort of thing.

(Thanks to French Laundry at Home for pointing me in the right direction.)

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