It’s coming round to that time of year when everyone and his dog has the crystal ball out to look at the year ahead and tries to work out what will be up, down, in or out in the year ahead. I did this last year for food, and can’t believe it’s that time again.
This year though it feels much harder to read the year ahead. Last year the only thing that seemed certain was that it was going to be tough, which would probably drive hunkering down kind of behaviour: making do and mend, doing it ourselves, food for free. And 2010? Less certain, but here goes with my thoughts:
1. More of the same. Not an economist, but it feels like, from an average person’s point of view, that it could continue to get tougher this year. We’ve saved the bankers, but the rest of us might continue to pay and feel the fall out. So I think we’ll continue to rediscover homemade skills, or refined the ones we picked up last year. Homemade jam and chutney will continue to grow, the joy of homemade bread to go along with it could grow. The dream of self sufficiency may be pursued, but many may find how unsustainable that is without a lot of work, and quite a lot of land. But doing a bit is better than doing nothing at all.
2. No economist, and certainly no political commentator, but it feels like a change is likely to come with the election we will have before the end of May. And if we have a shift to the right, maybe there will be a slightly more nationalistic approach to cooking. I think there has already been a resurgence in interest in traditional British cooking across all regions, but perhaps 2010 will see us exploring even more. It may also be a slight nostalgia, and a slight fear, of time passing by ever more quickly, and of things being lost. I loved the Quaking Pudding at the Hinds Head in Bray, and that Sussex Pond Pudding was on the menu too. More of this I think.
3. With Istanbul being European Capital of Culture for 2010, I would expect to see a surge of interest in Turkish food. Really interesting though looking at the official site that food is not immediately obvious as part of the events. How can food not be involved in culture? Some of us would argue that food and eating are at the very heart of culture. Responsible Travel have a great cooking tour of Istanbul, that has you cooking lunch and dinner along with other culinary visits. Sounds like a good starting place, as it’s just 4 days. Want to try it at home first? I could be tempted by The Sultan’s Kitchen as a starting point, but maybe the year will see a plethora of new launches around the subject.
4. In the usual cycle of trends, it’s normally around 20 years till something is trendy again. Which would give us the Nineties. Annoying Budweiser adverts, the advent of the Diet Coke break. Although it did bring the genius of the John West salmon ad. It was the start of the next phase of supermarket domination with the first Tesco Metro opening in Covent Garden in 1992, but also the arrival of Lidl and Aldi. And the rapid rise of pre-packed salads. Not much good. Throw out the trend cycle I say and get sowing your own salad. Kids love this, most of us have room for something, and nothing tastes better than freshly picked leaves. I’ll be working my way through Seeds of Italy’s finest, or go the lazy but effective route and choose the Salad Garden from Rocket Gardens and they’ll deliver little plants already to go.
So four possibilities from my Mystic Meg crystal ball. I am sure other than that that those of us who love food will continue to do so, and continue to explore the best, tastiest, most sustainable, local ways to getting great dishes to the table.
Here’s to the year ahead! Happy eating!
Fabulous photograph by Richard Lamb Photography