I haven't been able to go to one upscale restaurant lately without seeing some type of beet dish on the menu. Beets are such a fun ingredient, as they add a bright color to any dish. They have long been popular in Eastern Europe, especially Russia with beet soup and beet salads. Beets can be made into sugar, used as a natural dye, and incorporated into a variety of dishes.
Kale was super popular in Europe for a long time, as it is super healthy and resistant to cold weather. Specifically, in Scotland, it was preserved in salt, fed to cattle, and used in countless other ways until its popularity faded a bit with the popularization of potatoes in the 1700s. Now, kale is almost comically popular all over the United States and embraced by health nuts everywhere.
So many cultures have a version of fried dough as a dessert. French beignets for example or Spanish churros. However, the standard "doughnut shape" that we are used to now was said to be created in the 19th century by an American in order to prevent an uncooked center in the dessert.
Quinoa was widely consumed by the Incas in Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. Now that it has gained so much popularity, South American farmers make more money exporting the grain than eating it themselves, so they are losing access to a previously major staple in their culture. The history of quinoa definitely makes you think about the effects that food trends have worldwide.
Poke. Is. Incredible. It is traditionally marinated flavorful fish on a bed of rice with selected veggies and other toppings. It originates from Hawaii, where fresh fish is abundant. I have seen poke food trucks, and even poke bowl inspired entrees at restaurants, like a poke salad, which is the fish served on a cabbage salad as a lighter and fresher alternative to rice.
Açaí bowls are seen all over the health food community, but açaí originates from the Amazon Jungle. açaí is a berry in its purest form, and it was used as a cure for different diseases by tribes in the Amazon. It is a powerful antioxidant and is an incredibly healthy food. Açaí bowls have been popular for a long time in Hawaii and are now moving mainland. In the US, açaí is generally sold in frozen packets easily blended up into a smoothie or a smoothie bowl.
Chia seeds were said to be eaten by the Aztecs and can be traced back to Mexico. Remember those Chia-pets that were super popular a decade or two ago? Those little animals are made up of chia seeds that grow into grass, but now the seeds are more popular in foods. Chia seeds are considered a superfood, so they are often seen sprinkled on top of smoothie bowls or oatmeal to pack an extra nutritional punch.
Sriracha is said to be created by a woman in Thailand in the 1930s. Now it is seen all over the United States, even in fast food restaurants, often mixed with mayonnaise or ketchup. The delectable spicy sauce is popular all over the world and varies slightly in color, texture, and spice level by a manufacturer.
Trends may come and go, but as we buy into them, or don't, it does not hurt to gain an understanding of the origin of the food we eat. So go forth with this new knowledge and #eatsmart!