2019 was a year of unexpected drama, food-wise, and 2020 seems to be a year for ushering in changes in the way we see and enjoy food. 2020 was preceded by fried chicken sandwiches on a meteoric rise in popularity, Whoppers coming under legal fire for its meatless burgers, and even Taco Bell venturing into the resort business.
Indeed, the 2010-2019 decade will continue to have a significant impact on the way we see and enjoy food, from the Instagram debut in 2010 to the rise of kale as the de facto salad base! But it’s 2020 and surprises are around the corner aside from the ones that we see coming, such as the ones discussed below.
Wagyu’s Nose-to-tail Dining Trend
Yes, Wagyu is among the world’s priciest cuts of meat and we can fully understand its appeal. Its perfect ratio between lean meat and fat means it’s a juicy, succulent and flavorful meat for steaks and the like. Its best cuts are, of course, the loin and ribeye, so these are the priciest, too.
But the 2020 trend focuses more on the less prime and, thus, les pricey cuts from Wagyu cattle – and we wholeheartedly welcome it. After all, it’s still the same animal and the flavors of the cooked meat will largely depend on the chef’s skill.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to nose-to-tail dining, Wagyu-style! Yes, it’s still luxurious eating because it’s still Wagyu meat but you won’t pay for an arm and a leg for the dining experience either. Many restaurants are now offering dishes made from Wagyu knuckle, sirloin butt and brisket – the cuts may be less prime but the preparation is still prime because Wagyu beef deserves nothing less.
West African Ingredients Come to the Fore
Moringa, a tree-like plant with small, green leaves, is considered as a super-food and it’s just one of many West African ingredients that are becoming more popular with chefs. There’s even an emerging food movement known as Afro-funk that focuses on West African ingredients and food, such as pilafs.
Look out for fonio, a rice-like grain, which many dub as the next quinoa because of its increasing popularity. There’s egusi seeds, which are rich in proteins and used in thickening soups, as well as dawadawa, a fermented locust bean used in soups and stews.
Fusion Cuisine as a Reflection of the Chef’s Story
We say that the dishes we create reflect our stories – where we come from, where we are now and where we aspire to be. We then make dishes taught to us by our parents and grandparents, or borne of our travels or readings, or borne by our imagination, often a combination of all three influences. We are making fusion cuisine, whether we know it or not!
The fusion cuisine we know in 2020 is autobiographical in nature in this sense. Indeed, chefs use fusion cooking to tell their own stories of their lives, whether it’s grilling over an open fire during family fishing trips or training in a prestigious culinary school. Take, for example, Crustacean, a restaurant run by Helene An who tells her immigration story from Vietnam to the United States with every dish served on the table.
But there’s something good to be said about the familiar and we can say it about the fried chicken at KFC! Every bite into a piece of fried chicken heaven is juicy, succulent and flavorful – comfort food that we will keep coming back to after we’re bored of the changes in the food industry.