Worst food trends of 2017


Bacon belongs on a plate with eggs, not in jam or ice cream

By Paula Johnson

Since this is our ‘worst of’ issue, I will gleefully plunge into that steaming vat of food and restaurant trends I despise. I’ll dredge it all up for your consideration, and I dare you not to join me in my mission to obliterate these horrors, this awfulness—and the hope that next year things will be better. Or at least a little less sucky. Here goes:

Seaweed

If one of the biggest selling points for a food is the level of a nutrient (iodine) that most people don’t even know they need, then you can pretty much know that this food probably tastes like crap. “Seaweed was invented approximately forever ago when Odin and Quetzalcoatl agreed the world needed oceans in which we could all pee”—I didn’t write that but I wish I had. It sums up my feeling about seaweed. A seaweed salad? Why, for the love of God, why? 

Proudly Obnoxious Fast Food That Basically Dares You To Die

It’s like when KFC said, “hold my beer” and announced the Double Down—bacon and cheese between fried chicken serving as bread. Because this is America and I know my rights, right? And my right to eat 50,000 calories and 50,000 grams of sodium is enshrined in the constitution!

The Baconization of Everything

I love bacon pretty hard like most folks, but I’m over it being in everything from ice cream to jam, especially the now ubiquitous jam. Look for it on a McDonald’s burger soon. It’s a waste of bacon. I will site one surprising exception—Sue Brandell of Jimmie’s Ladder 11’s bacon chocolate chip cookies. They can stay. Other than that, put that bacon back on the plate next to the eggs and hash browns (NOT home fries—their surface crunch to soft potato ratio is all wrong.)

Raw Food

We discovered fire and food together makes the angels sing. Why question this?

Overly Intellectualized Plating Presentations

Like deconstructed anything—ingredients that are laid out separately like a tarot card spread. I want my ingredients to be assembled thank you.

Quinoa

Never liked it and now I can feel ok about that. It’s food gentrification people. Here’s the deal: Quinoa mostly comes from Bolivia. Initially, farmers started making a lot of money when quinoa became popular after being touted as a superfood. The rise of quinoa prices has led farmers to up their production, resulting in monocultures as they abandon other crops. And not only that, a food that was once an affordable staple for the people who grow it is now no longer available or affordable to them thanks to it being the food fashion of the moment. 

Truffle Oil

It’s on EVERYTHING these days. I’ll let Pulitzer Prize winning food critic Jonathan Gold take it from here “Real truffles, whether the white ones from Alba or the black ones from the Périgord, are miracles of gastronomy. Truffle oil, a wholly synthetic substance that has come no closer to actual truffles than it has to the surface of the moon, is not. Ever smelled the deer musk that hunters like to smear on themselves during rut? Now imagine that on your next $18 plate of pasta.”

Juicing

Stop doing this and thinking it’s healthy. From Popular Science: “Juicing was called out for its tendency to sneak extra sugar—and calories—into your diet. When you juice a fruit, you remove the healthful fiber contained therein. You’re basically just drinking sugar water with some vitamins in it. You’d be better off eating a few carrots and apples than drinking a whole grocery cart worth of fruits and veggies in one sitting.” Food is meant to be chewed—save the juicing for when you’re old and have no teeth. And then also remember your Metamucil.

Pinterest Recipes That Emulate Fast Food Or Chain Restaurants

Like you’d want to spend a few hours shopping and preparing a recipe that tastes like Chick fil A? Have you been struck in the head?

Almond Milk

Plant based alternatives are great but this one, not so much. Huge carbon footprint. It takes 5 liters of water to grow one almond. (Almost 82 percent of the world’s almonds are grown in California, one of the most drought-affected places in the world.) Almond milk is essentially a big bunch of almonds, blended with water and strained to extract the “milk”. The almond meal that’s left behind is tossed when almond milk is commercially produced.

Food That Pretends To Be Other Food

No one wants your cauliflower mock mashed potatoes. This was drilled down deep into my soul by the betrayed looks on the faces of my children as they spooned up what they thought were spuds. Don›t even mention tofurkey.

Farm-Raised Salmon

So much to say but I’ll just focus on this: A chemical is added to the food of ALL farm-raised salmon to make it red. Salmon in the wild eat things which makes their flesh red naturally. The cost of this additive increases the price of the food more than 20 percent. We are paying 20 percent more for the color red. 

Pretentious Restaurants

There’s one local place that refused a friend’s request that the barista not sweeten her coffee with agave because she doesn’t like the taste, saying “This is how we sweeten it here. It tastes best this way” And another friend’s experience at a place which specializes in the oh-so-trendy charcuterie plate. As she made her choices the server said to her, “Are you ordering prosciutto because you think you know what it is?” Let’s hope these places and others like them get over their damn selves.

There are so many more, but I only had time to skim the surface of culinary sorrow. Let’s hope for a better 2018!

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Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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