It's been a big year for gluten-free pizza, dishes, backlash, and the movement as a whole. Seems like every other day you're seeing gluten-free dishes on menus, hearing about chefs either trying to accommodate or battle the trend, and hearing another testimonial about the wonders of adopting a gluten-free diet.
It tastes better, it doesn't taste better. It's better for you, there's no health benefit. It's better for the cow, it isn't. It's proudly written on restaurant menus. Well, you get the point...
This is a good one. It's a question for chefs. It's an economic question. It's a socio-economic question. It's a trend question. And you get different answers from different people: chefs, writers, linecooks, dishwashers, celebrity chefs, and, of course, culinary schools. It's a topic that begs dozens of articles and updates over the years. And it's not going anywhere.
Nobody's trying to diminish the import or seriousness of food scares. Listeria, hepatitis A, botulism, E. coli, typhoid — these are some pretty heavy, dangerous things we're talking about, and they've been the culprits behind some scary outbreaks of illnesses through the years. They're also instant fodder for food media.
Is it DiFara? Pizzeria Bianco? Should this question be subdivided into two categories: one artisanal, and neo-Neapolitan (hint: probably)? Motorino (if you believe Sam Sifton)? Joe's? Frank Pepe's? Does New Haven have better pizza than New York? The debate, and the topic, goes on...
First there was bacon. Then there was bacon ice cream. And bacon doughnuts. And bacon toys. Then there was the bacon explosion, bacon candy, and chocolate-covered bacon. There were reports that bacon cured hangovers and there were bacon turtle hamburgers. Heck, it seemed at one point that there was nothing bacon couldn't do. Wait, who is anyone kidding? Bacon isn't going anywhere.
Bacon as a topic is so powerful, so strong, so lasting, that even after it passes through its own lifespan, even after it is generally considered passé, it's the kind of thing that gets picked up by a boorish, lazy talking head, when he can't figure out what else to write about, in an article that talks about how bacon is over and not respected, only to kick the whole topic off again.
Do you even remember a time before cupcakes? Was that the pastryolithic time period? Were there dinosaurs? They've been around forever (since Magnolia opened, at least) and like the cockroaches of the dessert world and online food media topics, they just won't go away. And as soon as they do start losing traction in the cities that rebooted them, they start finding new life in cities grabbing on to the hand-me-down trends, like in D.C.
Because cupcakes and their pursuit was such a hot topic, it should be no surprise that finding the next thing to replace them would be another subject that isn't going anywhere. Is cake the new cupcake? Are doughnuts? Cookies? Pie?
But consider the number of stories about it leading up to the end — the books, the interviews — and then while it closed — the coverage — and after it closed — the questions about its beginnings, its middle, and its end. Then there are the questions about whether it might reopen, and how, and the foundation, and the press tours, and, well, you get the point. Ferran may be amazing, but the restaurant doesn't exist anymore. Basta.
Best-new-thing wise, cupcakes begat pies, begat doughnuts, begat over-the-top doughnuts. And that means Voodoo Donuts, bacon doughnuts, burger doughnuts, mini-doughnuts, shiso doughnuts... you name it. Doughnuts aren't going anywhere.
Is it cruel? Well, even if you love to eat it, you have to say yes, don't you? Probably. Force-feeding then slaughtering can't exactly be a pretty picture. Get PETA involved and so it goes and so it goes.
The Doritos taco at Taco Bell, the Double Down at KFC, these over-the-top items at fast-food joints have shock appeal, garner attention, and then, usually, disappear into the ether until the next over-the-top thing.
As much as the major fast-food companies often want, need, and indeed obsess over the publicity behind new over-the-top dishes like the Double Down, they still have the need to obsess over portraying themselves as having healthy options. Right, because anyone goes to McDonald's for a salad. Wait, who actually goes to McDonald's?
The menus that source every single ingredient actually started disappearing a while ago, but the topic hasn't disappeared. It has just moved upstairs to restaurants' rooftop gardens.
You hate them. You love them. They're illegal in your city. They're the best new thing in your town. They roll in and have more hype attached to your most recent lunch than you can remember experiencing. Regardless, they have TyFlo, Food Network, and everyone else behind them that you can imagine.
Is it organic or is it Memorex? Another talked-to-death subject.
Careful, this could get ugly. Is there a general casual eats food topic that has less of a chance of going away than In-N-Out? Maybe Five Guys. Shake Shack? All three are constant fast-food fodder.
You get it, yes, chefs have attitudes. They swear, they're edgy, quirky, CR-AZY, both ber- and pseudo- counterculture. Sometimes that crankiness makes them lovable for a while, like Tony Bourdain, and sometimes, well, sometimes, like in the case of Cesar Ramirez of Brooklyn Fare, it just makes them jerks.
Figs on a plate, Mexican food, Shake Shack versus In-N-Out — that coastal showdown just never gets old.