Friday, July 22, 2016

Global Is the New Black

What's more global than candy sushi made by my friends' kids?
Restaurant menu trends come and go, though for the past few years, Baltimore has been on a pretty significant Southern Flavors/Regional American kick.

Over the past month or so, though, I've noticed a slight shift away from strictly American influences to a more global approach to cuisine.

I'm not talking about a largely American dish with, say,  harissa worked into the mix. What's happening now is less subtle than that. It's not about fusion - it's about whole dishes drawn from specific cuisines. And multiple cuisines being represented on one menu.

At Gunther and Co., we ate duck lumpia and a Thai hot pot - both Asian dishes with specific flavor profiles, included on a menu that also had ravioli and a truly impressive selection of oysters.

Last night, at The Elephant - which is in its pre-opening week and is gorgeous - we saw wide bowls of ramen at one table and a lamb tagine for two at another.

If I was going to write a college paper about this trend, I'd posit that because we are living in such interesting times - times of global turmoil, if you want to be more dramatic about it - chefs are gravitating to more classic interpretations of dishes. Global is interesting, but the straightforward approach is familiar and comforting.

And if I was writing that paper, I'm sure I'd find a way to tie in the NY Post's recent article about the return of fine dining. Grown-up restaurants embracing a more serious approach to dining out - it also fits with the "in times of turmoil we seek stability" theory.

This theory was the backbone of about half of my art history papers on college. And, of course, food is the new art.

If I do say so myself.

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