Words: Shamim de Brún
Artwork: Paul Smith
Trends are wild beasts that come out of seemingly nowhere and take over. They can be a force for good. Or as evil as the skinny eyebrow, but for better or worse, they come and go as they please. I’ve Mystic Meg’d my predictions for trends to look forward to in this year of our pandemic 2022.
There is enormous tech money being invested into plant-based meat substitutes, and they’re getting better. Still, nothing has a sustainable foodie more excited than the prospect of lab-grown meat. They ostensibly look, cook, smell, and taste like beef, but we’re grown in a petridish. Moreover, advocates claim that there is a reduction of antibiotic use and no need for deforestation to create fields for grazing cattle or growing animal feed.
If this lands in 2022, which is a distinct possibility, it will spread like wildfire throughout Ireland. There will be think pieces, there will be backlash, there will be blood. The farmers will riot, and Dublin will burn. Or something less dramatic but thematically similar. I’m not sure I’m looking forward to this one for the right reasons, but I think it will be a world-changer worth watching for.
For a while, there’s been a focus on nose-to-tail eating, using as much of the animal as possible. So making bone broth using cheeks and offal became accepted and encouraged. It hit the menus of high-end restaurants and home cooks alike. But it’s still customary to throw away vegetable peelings, stalks and stems. Or compost them.
A new wave of the sustainability movement will crash land on our TikTok screens early this year and filter down. Whole vegetable cooking. Turning lemon rinds into sweets, broccoli stems into broccoli fries, apple cores into apple cider vinegar and more. Expect to see recipe trends proving the scraps usually destined for the bin can be turned into accoutrements with a flourish and a good fade.
Ghost kitchens aren’t a pandemic innovation, but they are making their name known like Nicole Kidman in The Others because of it. The delivery service boom has a lot to do with their proliferation. They’re essentially kitchens solely set up for delivery with none of the faff. If 2021 taught us anything, there is no guarantee that some new variant won’t catch and ground us all as soon as it can, so ghost kitchens will only get more popular as this and the labour shortage continues.
Cannabis remains illegal, so it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing upscale cannabis-infused dishes hit the cobbles any time soon. But the world of CBD recipes gets more elaborate every year. Hemp shops have gone mainstream, and even your accountant has a CBD topical for their joint pain. You can get all the legal CBD ingredients you want across the city now, so don’t be surprised to see CBD garlic bread becoming the sourdough of epsilon zeta.
This is a hard sell, but I see the zoomers flying around on it as they age into their spending power. A major study published in 2018 found that coffee production emitted more carbon emissions than poultry, pork or prawns (although much less than beef).
So if you love your daily bean juice but want to be mindful of the planet, you could be drinking beanless coffee in 2022. There’s a variety of ways this could manifest. First is mushroom coffee, a blend of ground mushrooms to brew a dark, smooth, and nutty coffee-like drink. Mushroom coffee generally uses medicinal mushroom extracts rather than culinary mushrooms. Next, Atomo Coffee should arrive in the EU this year. Their coffee is made with 98% recycled ingredients, including date pips and has the familiar caffeine hit. Or there’s Whole Earth Wake Up Coffee made from Guarana that tastes like someone shouting coffee at you from across the room but does give that jolt of a caffeine kick.
Nostalgia is a food trend that transcends the class structure. In the aftermath of 2021’s choux pastry revival, desserts like soufflé are gearing up to take centre stage very soon. These throwback desserts are only a part of nostalgia trends. We’ll also see many 90s and 00s brunches and themed restaurants filtering through. I would not be surprised to see a TikTok tinned spaghetti o’s recipe go viral or Toffos get relaunched. This one is like a bag of cats, it could go any way, but it’s definitely getting out of the bag.
So everyone is talking about potato milk like it’s gonna be the game-changer of the non-dairy milk world, which has me a bit suspicious of it. That said, with everyone from RTE to Hello Magazine, it will definitely have its moment. Whether it’s fifteen minutes or here to stay is beyond my powers of precognition. That said, I bet we’ll all have a go of it, even if just to say we did.