The past year has been a crazy in the world of food. We’ve seen milkshakes with entire lollipops and cake slices on top, cakes that resemble raindrops, and bubble tea with cotton candy wrapped around the cup. Okay, these trends are cool, and are probably fun to eat every once in a while simply because they’re just so different. But if you stop and think for a while, you’ll realize that there are some food trends that just go too far, and there are quite a few problems with them.
The main concern is that all of these crazes are huge mediums for unneeded food waste. Those whole cookies on the glass rims are largely for decoration, meant to be eye candy and simply attract more people to buying those foods. The serving sizes are also insanely large and uncalled for (do we need entire slabs of melted cheese on our potatoes?), leaving lots of wasted food that could have been used or given more strategically.
I’m all for being adventurous and daring in the kitchen. Hell, I even make Sriracha macarons in my free time. Still, it seems as if, as of late, restaurants have been throwing out dishes simply for the point of going viral. We all would love our social media fame every once and a while, but there are more responsible and conscious ways to have it than throwing out a gold-plated donut. It’s come to the point where I prepare myself for a massive eye roll every time an Insider video pops up on my feed.
On a larger scope, it seems like we’re sacrificing flavor and palatability for customer attention and Instagram/Facebook fame. I don’t doubt that Black Tap’s milkshakes are fun to eat, or that entire clouds of cotton candy add to the bubble tea experience. But really, the main focus seems to be food porn-y visuals, which is often (and unfortunately) achieved through excess sugar or other unhealthy components that may cause diseases and illnesses in the long run.
Keep in mind that these food crazes are being popularized through social media, which is a wonderful way for restaurants to gain followings, but it’s sending the wrong message to people. “Trendy” foods are now seen as things that are fundamentally unhealthy and over-the-top, and more people are buying into them simply for IG fame and racking up likes. Not that there’s anything wrong with photographing your food – but in some cases, we’re helping popularize these unhealthy and food-wasting vessels.
That doesn’t mean that all food that’s being posted on our feeds is bad for us, and that’s where we have the potential to turn this obsession over ridiculous food creations around. Sure, we can continue to be outrageous and daring with our food, but we could channel that into something that’s more health-aware and reasonable. Restaurants should try experimenting with relatively unknown and exotic fruits in açaí bowls, or even dare to replace standard bar drinks with kombucha cocktails. I’d so dabble.
I’m not calling for the end of Black Tap, nor do I want those churro cones to disappear completely. I think it’s fascinating to see what people are able to come up with – but we should be passing along the idea that trendy foods aren’t necessarily the ones that are excessive, bad for our health, and proponents of food waste.
Chefs should instead be channeling their creativity into foods that are more aware and conscious of the impact they may have: both on an internal, physiological level, and on an external, environmental one.