It’s safe to say that 2021 has been…challenging.
An unforeseen by-product of the pandemic has been a huge rise in people ordering delivery meals and DIY meal kits. As delivery-food providers widened their range and scope to cater to demand, consumers found a world of unlimited culinary opportunities opening up before their eyes (and tummies). This spirit of gastronomic adventure, as well as a general growing mindfulness about what we’re eating and how it affects our bodies and the planet, significantly informs this list of five of the top foods trending in 2021. Let’s tuck in.
This ongoing trend only strengthened in appeal as “comfort food” became a lockdown essential. Katsu is a Japanese dish of fried chicken or vegetables coated in panko breadcrumbs, usually served with a rich curry sauce and sticky rice. Crispy, warmining, satisfying - no wonder it’s one of the year’s superstars. Mild, yet mouth-wateringly tasty, this indulgent treat is set to continue topping food trend lists for a long time to come.
While our own personal travel was off-limits, food trends seem to make their way across the pond without restriction. An American classic - take a meat patty, smash it flat, and you’ve got one of the food trends of the year. There is food science here: by increasing the contact area with the heat source, you get a burger with tasty crispy edges and a tantalisingly juicy centre. They cook quickly, too, and served in a bun to soak up the meat juices, are fast becoming the royalty of the burger world. Long live the king.
Vegan Fast Food
Recent times have seen environmental and ethical concerns around food proliferate, with a growing shift towards vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. No longer considered a diet consisting of bland food and denialism, veganism is the food movement of 2021, and vegan options of favourite take-away treats, like hot dogs, burgers, and nuggets, are being enjoyed by vegans and non-vegans alike. Usually made with a protein-rich meat substitute like soy or lentils, vegan hot dogs are popping up on restaurant and take-out menus all over the place.
Chips, fries, wedges, or tots - as long as they are some kind of fried potato product, we want to top them. Loaded fries have secured a massive stronghold in the world of “Menu Sides”. These champions can be loaded with a variety of toppings and sauces, such as cheese, crispy onions, gravy, and sliced chilli. Consumers just can’t get enough of these flavour-packed meal-sized treats.
We see kombucha (a fermented tea drink), sauerkraut, and kimchi speckled into everyday menus.In particular, kimchi - which is a fermented vegetable dish, traditional to Korea. It has varied uses, and can be served on its own, as a condiment or added to stews or noodles. Its appeal lies both in its spicy taste and satisfying ‘bite’.
Fermented foods have been a continuous topic of conversation in the health-food scene as they are reportedly good for gut health, amongst other health benefits.
The varied nature of the foods trending this year is testament to the strength of the ever popular “comfort food” adapting to the changing tastes of the nation, and consumers’ concern for both personal and environmental wellness. In addition to the individual menu items above, there has been a significant spike in demand for sharing platters, recipe kits, and desserts in 2021 as the country well-deservedly indulges.