Sometimes a food item, like so many other products in this world, is invented by a company and marketed so well that it becomes a part of everyday life and we soon forget that we ever lived without it.
Sometimes a trend starts, probably from a TV cooking show or a celebrity chef, for a food item that’s been there all along but no-one really took much notice of it.
Either way, before we know it, there’s a new dish or delicacy making headlines and enjoying its fifteen minutes of fame.
Here’s my top five Trendy Food Items:
1) Pulled Pork. Usually served in a burger or super-sized sandwich, pulled pork is slow cooked barbeque pork, which can be literally pulled apart. It is a delicious way to serve pork and is currently enjoying huge popularity in pubs, restaurants and home kitchens around the country. But when did we start eating pulled pork? I really don’t think I’d even heard of it this time last year.
2) Cider. OK so we’re only two items in and I’m already including a drink in a list of food items. Seriously though, cider is now giving beer and wine a run for their money in pubs all over town. If I now walk into a pub or bottle shop and find they don’t have any cider, or only have a few bottles of Strongbow because the supplier had it on special a couple of months ago, I feel like I’ve stepped back into the dark ages. With almost every fruit under the sun getting a look in as a guest ingredient, the range of brands and flavours of cider is growing faster than I can get around to trying them. A few years ago, bartenders in Australia would serve a bottle of cider with a straw, as if it were an alcopop. Now, if the general population could start to understand that cider is akin to beer and therefore does not need to be poured over ice, I think cider might finally complete its quest for world domination.
3) Sliders. Now appearing on bar menus everywhere in the small plates menu. A slider is a miniature burger, so one serving will usually include three or four burgers. Pretty much anything that you could include in a burger or sandwich is appearing on slider menus. Now that sliders are appearing on trendy bar menus everywhere, it’s surprising to learn that the slider was invented by a fast food chain, White Castle. Depending on where in the world you’re from, you might have watched Harold and Kumar and assumed White Castle didn’t even exist in real life and that no one would really want to eat such small burgers. White Castle as still going strong in the US but the burgers on the website do look a little bland compared to the sliders on offer pretty much anywhere else. But I’m sure at 5am after a long and adventurous night out, they taste like heaven. To prove how sliders have gone from obscurity to household name in the last few years, in 2009 I decided to have a bite to eat at a newly opened bar in Kings Cross. I ordered the mini Wagyu beef burgers, as they were known back then. They were on the starters menu, but even so the whole table, including the two chefs present, erupted in laughter when my plate of three perfectly formed but absolutely tiny burgers arrived.
4) Wagyu Beef. Also see Sliders, above, for my first experience of Wagyu beef. Nowadays, it is not sufficient to simply offer a beef burger on a bar menu. McDonalds serves beef burgers. Trendy bars serve Wagyu burgers. Wagyu cattle originated in Japan and have been in Australia since 1991. The flavour of the meat was rumoured to have been brought about by techniques such as massaging the cattle or adding beer to their food, a rumour which helped suppliers to charge high prices for the meat, but now it seems more likely that it’s just a naturally tasty bit of beef.
5) Planks. Do not confuse a plank, which slides easily across the table, with a slider. A plank looks like a wooden chopping board with food artfully arranged on top. No longer used just as an alternative to a plate to serve up garlic bread or bruschetta; a plank is now a dish in itself and typically comprises a selection of meat, cheese or vegetables just sort of arranged on top of a wooden board, in the name of sharing food. Everyone jumps in for the cheese, no one touches the artichokes, and then there’s always one last sundried tomato left over that everyone wants but out of politeness no-one ends up eating.
Nicki Ranger is a freelance writer currently based in Perth, Western Australia.
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