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Food Trends? Okay, If You Must

Strangely enough, food trends aren’t always popular.

Remember when, maybe in the 1980s, chefs started to make pretty plates with two bites of food somehow made to stand a foot tall?

We hated that trend back then because we left the restaurant hungry. We hate it today because it makes people on cooking shows talk about “plating” as if it were a side dish you might fill up on.

And some trends have been around so long you can’t really think of them as trends. Take the “trendy” citrus, yuzu. Some chefs are all aflutter over it, but Chinese, Japanese, and Korean chefs have been using it since the Tang dynasty. That was, like, weeks ago.

But everyone eventually finds a trend they’re interested in. A Gwinnett chef might, for example, put jackfruit on a po’ boy for vegetarians, without raising too many eyebrows. 

As always, there are a few new trends that are promising, and some that aren’t.

Less-than-promising trends might include:

Uncultivated botanicals are edible flowers and the like, added to your plate. In these parts, we spray our yards when uncultivated botanicals start popping up.

Shiso leaves are from an invasive weed… I mean, an uncultivated botanical… described by one website as smelling of “ancient exotic woods.” If you take a bite expecting mint and get ancient exotic wood, you ought to be eating one of those Harry Potter jellybeans. Of course, Japanese and Korean chefs have been using it (like shiso) well for over 1000 years… but can you call that a trend?

Zero-proof liquors. Hey, the bartender had to find some way to get money out of the Baptists. By the way, if you can apply the term “sober-curious” to yourself with a straight face, you should try it.

But in all seriousness, even these trends are pretty good, and there are definitely some trends worth keeping up with in Gwinnett.

International Flair

Southeast Asian flavors continue to be a hit. There’s no shortage of great Korean BBQ. Try Breakers or Honey Pig in Duluth, or 770 in Suwanee. Lawrenceville’s Local Republic serves a great beef bao with kimchi, and never forget Aqua Terra’s Korean BBQ Short Ribs.

But the new thing is supposed to be African-inspired dishes, so while you’re waiting for Arby’s to catch on you should check out Honest Star in Lawrenceville and Ike’s Cafe and Grill in Norcross. Order anything that mentions harissa.

Fermented Foods

Fermentation is all the rage, and not just in the form of fermented grapes. Pretty much any Korean restaurant is going to have good fermented food in the form of kimchi, but word on the street is that you have to try the fermented vegetables at Honey Pot in Suwanee.

Storied Sourcing

This seems to mean farm-to-table, or at least knowing where your food came from. That we can do! The folks at Local Republic (Lawrenceville), 1910 Public House (Lilburn), and Good Word Brewing (Duluth) can all fill you in on their locally sourced ingredients. Maybe they can even tell you a story.

Oat Milk

Oat milk, which actually exists (we looked it up), is trending. It’s not much healthier than the alternatives like almond and soy milk, but apparently it tastes better… which isn’t hard to imagine. Some local coffee shops are happy to make your drink with oak milk (speak clearly unless you want oatmeal in your cappuccino), including TradeWind Coffee in Dacula, Boulder Creek Coffee in Lawrenceville, and Revelator Coffee in Peachtree Corners.

What Else Ya Got?

What other food and flavor trends have you spotted in Gwinnett? Maybe you spotted some sorrel in your salad or shiso in your soup? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

But if you find zero-alcohol bourbon somewhere, you can keep that one to yourself.