Have you eaten any arancini topped with kimchi lately?
Every year in December and January, my inbox floods with trend predictions. And every year, I cock an eyebrow at them.
As a rule, I’m highly suspicious of trend predictions. Every guess gets contradicted by another indicator and the whole thing shakes out to be more about marketing fantasies and less about real-life scenarios.
Besides, since when do our likes and dislikes start or stop based on the calendar? Does January pop up like a timer to tell us it’s time to pitch out our mac-and-cheese because the comfort food trend is over?
From here on my perch in 2013, I couldn’t resist looking back at the predictions for 2012.
The trend-watchers I consulted had called for more popularity for small, round foods. Arancini – fried Italian rice balls stuffed with things – popped up on a menu or two, while meatballs were something I spotted once or twice.
Did meatballs displace meatloaf, as predicted? I can’t say that’s true. No one predicted that mashed potatoes would go away, so meatloaf will always have a home on our plates.
The interest in Korean food is definitely still hanging around. I just saw a new book on kimchi, and most of the food magazines are still sprinkled with variations on bulgogi and bibambap.
But Nordic food – a big prediction based on the global acclaim for the restaurant Noma in Copenhagen – didn’t bring reindeer meat and aquavit into my life. If I’m eating more lingonberries, it has more to do with Saturday shopping excursions to IKEA.
Couponing stayed big, as predicted, although the emphasis seemed to move to online deals that arrive in our emails. The most dedicated bargain shoppers put down their scissors and started printing things out. Was that a trend or just a habit we’ve all picked up since the economy tightened up in 2008?
Several trend-watchers called for more “social eating” – sharing what we eat while we eat it through things like Facebook and Twitter.
I can certainly vouch for that one, although I keep hoping we’ll develop new etiquette to cover situations like letting our food get cold while we grab our phones to tell someone we’re about to eat it.
One supermarket expert said stores would start building themselves for baby boomer shoppers, with wider aisles and lower shelves. I haven’t seen that, but I would welcome larger type on packages. It won’t help to put health claims on labels for my age group if we can’t read them.
One prediction I loved was that farmers would become celebrities. That one might be happening. Last summer’s YouTube sensation was “I’m Farming and I Grow It,” the parody of “I’m Sexy and I Know It,” by The Peterson Farm Brothers.
But I’m still holding out hope for a version of Desperate Housewives of Union County.
And finally, almost all of the trend-watchers I read predicted that more men would take over the family shopping and meal planning.
If that’s the case, I predict 2013 will bring us trends for the end of those silly sliders and a return to a full-size burger. Maybe it will taste good topped with all that leftover kimchi.