Food. Once classified pretty much just as stuff to sustain us, it’s now worth more cool points than the latest underground music scene or a wardrobe purchased exclusively from The Kooples.
Now, this is good. Choice is great, the latest east Asian delicacies are exciting and it's damn fantastic that this country has moved away from our dry meat and boiled veg past.
Problem is, the culinary world’s trendy status means it’s always in need of re-jigs and fads to keep short attention-spanned punters interested. This leads to the most comprehensive range of downright irritating concepts, dishes and settings known in the history of British gastronomy.
Presenting: 2014's most eye-roll worthy offerings.
1 | Sharing plates
It started out innocently enough. The original Spanish concept of tapas – intended as mere bar snacks to accompany your Rioja – is a fine culinary example of a snack from our Mediterranean pals, who refuse to be satisfied with meagre servings of peanuts and bags of stale Walkers at their equivalent of the post-work pub trip.
But now, the whole concept has been hijacked. Dinky Yorkshire puddings served with slithers of beef and droplets of gravy, three lonely pieces of gnocchi topped with a solo sage leaf: you end up having to order ten dishes to get anywhere near full, and there is nothing more infuriating that dividing it all up between your table, only to get a few mouthfuls of the stuff. Individual meals are where it's at.
2 | Yuzu Juice
This Japanese citrus fruit is being forced on us as a flavouring in cocktails, salad dressings and even chewing gum. Exotic, sure. The issue lies in the fact that it’s so sour, it's revolting. Lemons were working just fine before.
3 | Drinks in jam jars
Iced coffee, a mojito and cider: just three of the things now hawked in a jar that used to contain stuff to spread on toast. What with not actually being designed as drink receptacles and all, they are near-impossible to get liquid out of once you pass the half-way mark. This kitsch, twee, village-fête method of serving beverages has become a little too contrived.
4 | Kale
Thanks to a slew of gym obsessive types devoted to posting photos of their six packs on Instagram, kale has now taken on more forms than we can keep track of. Crisps, juices, smoothies: sure, it’s very good for you, but over-exposure renders anything maddening.
5 | Veg juice bars
“The new coffee shop,” they call it. “You’ll all be stocking up on blended carrot and ginger instead of your morning rocket-fuel Americano,” they say.
The day that men across the land replace Arabica beans with a visit to the juice bar doesn't look too close.
6 | Coconut everything
Thai curries; Malibu; Bounties; coconut is boss. It’s other people who have messed this one up. Oil, water, nectar, butter: the list of health foods constructed out of the unassuming hairy oval seems to be getting out of hand. This one needs to calm down before some neo-pagan cult devoted to its glory appears.
7 | Insects
Yes, sustainable food sources are clearly important. And yes, we all need to start consuming less cow and eating more quinoa. But surely there are better protein alternatives than freeze-dried grasshoppers out there?
8 | Edible soil
Understood: the pressure is on for chefs to keep coming up with zany new ideas to keep ahead of the curve and interest alive. But there is simply no need to fashion a pudding out of a little faux plant pot and what is, essentially, bourbon biscuit smashed to bits and sprinkled on a plate.
9 | Foraging
Making food more eco: great. But the new chef top-trumps of who can prance about in the pre-dawn woods near their house picking mushrooms planted by angels for the longest, is getting a bit much. If it tastes good, then that's enough.
10 | Art-y pop-ups
“I’ve got a top idea. Lets serve sashimi and martinis out of a Hawaiian-style beach hut adorned with street art graffiti in the middle of Dalston. Everyone will go mad for it.”
This appears to be a fairly accurate transcript of conversations that are taking place between restaurateurs on a weekly basis in 2014. These lot need to realise that it would be quite nice to be able to get to your table without tripping over the lighting cable leads and up-turned crates from your qucik-turnaround new 'concept.' Static set-ups seem to work okay, so sticking to those would be just great.