Culinary Trends: 2021

Last January, I explored food trends 2020 with a light heart and sense of adventure. Since then, for many home cooks, these culinary adventures have turned laborious. With restaurants closing then re-opening then re-closing and individuals having to work from home while caring for small children and teens, also at home, and supervising their virtually learning of God-knows-what, some adults feel chained to the kitchen, preparing 3 meals a day.

In those early months, what fun we had with our sour dough starters, ordering meals from Blue Apron, canning and fermenting! However, 9 months later, the instant pot has lost some of its shine.

Researching 2021 food predictions by chefs, marketing companies, newspapers, and food critics, one finds the tone a bit somber, at least for the first half of the year. However, you can also hear the clinking of “glass half full” folks, such as marketer Andrew Freeman, who promises: “If we can ride the wave of what’s going to be a crappy winter, it’s going to be like the Roaring Twenties all over again.” That might be true, but only if we can hold on to our jobs and homes and electricity!

First, the dark side. Large chains, like McDonald’s and Domino’s, will be fine. Independent restaurants, on the other hand, will continue to struggle to survive. Food Delivery programs have hurt indies. Thus, supporting local restaurants, many of which are now offering take-out is key to their survival. Local restaurants need us, and we need them so they will be here once the pandemic ends.

On the positive side, restauranteurs are exploring new ways to serve their customers and communities. Chefs around the country are opening 2-day pop-ups and hosting virtual cooking classes. Others, like Chapel Hill’s Sheri Castle offer “Zoom Cook-Along” classes.

In 2021, fine dining restaurants will be adding comfort dishes to their menu. As the Wall Street Journal predicts: “tumultuous times will leave us craving simpler plating, product-driven cooking and old-school recipes, both at home and in restaurants.” Restaurant designer Anna Polonsky 
“sees tablecloths making a comeback—as in grandmothers’ linens, not ultra-high-end ones—along with rounder edges, cozy fabrics, handmade ceramics, comfortable seating and softer lighting. Her take: ‘In a chaotic world, all one wants is stability.’”

This past fall, I began doing just that by hosting a couple of Underground Supper Clubevents at the cabin. The most positive reviews, other than that the guests felt safe, had to do with the intimacy of the venue, the congeniality of the guests, and dining al fresco with a view of Farmer Lake.

In addition, I also ran two 4-week CSA Subscriptions for comforting soups (and will be offering another one in February–for more information, see below). One subscriber said they enjoyed not having to go into the kitchen on “Thursday Soup Night.” Another said they felt like Linus with his warm blanket.

2021 Food Trends for cooks and chefs might not sound exciting, but they are because most trends for the upcoming year are focusing on what is truly important: health and family. As an added bonus to the local economy, they also involve supporting area farmers and local food producers.

Most of the trend predictions suggest that veggies will be more popular than ever. Covid has awakened us to the importance of building up our immune systems for the next disaster on the horizon. Veggies play a key role in developing a healthy lifestyle, so start making friends with your local farmers, such as Open Door FarmHoney Bee HillsByrd Farm, and Cornerstone Garlic Farm. Although 2021 marks a shift away from a 20 oz porterhouse steak diet plan, plant-based meat (such as beef from CatbriarMilner, and Baldwin Farms will continue to flourish.

Other good news on the local front: Because we are restricted travel-wise, regional foods and locally made products will be the stars of 2021. Great news for our local farmers’ markets and restaurants, such as King Cropp in Danville that works with local farmers.

The common theme of these trends is clear: Food for 2021 is community- and family-focused. The Wall Street Journal reports that “families will eat—and cook-together more often.” This is a good thing since recent surveys conducted by the FMI (Food Industry Association) report that families who eat meals together are more likely to have better dietary habits and higher quality family functioning. WSJ also reports that “regionalism will heat up.” This means that we will be looking closer to home for your food sources. 2021 is looking pretty good.

Roasted Garbanzo Beans

According to Whole Foods Inc, in 2021 “garbanzo beans will be the new cauliflower.”

Here is a favorite recipe I often make to top salads and Buddha bowls. It begins with 1 15-ounce (425 g) of garbanzo beans, sometimes referred to as chickpeas. Be sure to rinse them well and then drain them. They need to be dry before you roast them.

Place your drained and dried garbanzo beans in a bowl. Using your hands, mix 1 tsp. cumin, ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper, ¾ tsp. chili powder, ¾ tsp. garlic powder, ¼ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. pepper, ½ tsp. oregano, ½ tsp. smoky paprika with beans and spread out on sheet pan covered with foil.

Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Stir. Continue baking 10 – 15 plus minutes, stirring occasionally, until chickpeas are roasted and crispy. Crispy is what you are looking for.