By Danny Tyree
As I write this year-end essay about 2022 trends in food and dining, I must confess that I’m playing catch-up.
I have obligations and hobbies, so I wasn’t technically paying attention (i.e., giving a rat’s rump) as 12 months of decadent delights, culinary controversies and avocado abominations unfolded. (“Homo sapiens still ingest food? What about that crazy ‘opposable thumbs’ fad? How long did THAT last?”)
Okay, I was narrowly focused on one aspect of food. I spent several months attempting to update George Carlin’s “7 Words You Can’t Say On TV” routine to include the really dirty words: “portion control.”
(To clear my head, I threw on my relaxed-fit jeans and rented a stretch limo for a joyride; but the deceptively named monstrosity stretched in all the wrong places!)
Still, mostly, it boils down to the fact that I’m a simple man – a “well, only if the escargot is on the value menu” man. I don’t need to keep tabs of chef migrations or counterintuitive sauces or balsamic gamechangers.
I can still muster a childlike sense of wonder concerning foods that other people long ago became jaded about. (“Wow. Potato chips in a canister! What will they think of next? No, wait – don’t tell me. My heart can’t take it.”)
This simplicity is a throwback to my childhood. I would spend weeks and months poring over menus and brochures in preparation for a family vacation and the exotic cuisine that it would entail. Invariably, once we reached an eatery, I would look up at my father and ask, “Can I just order a hamburger?”
(Surely it was only my imagination that Dad muttered, “Can I just order a paternity test?”)
More power to all the foodies in search of the Next Big Thing, but sometimes I think we’ve gotten too soft. Back when men were men and pronouns were the evil twin of sentence diagramming, you heard people stoically declaring “My arteries are 90 percent blocked” or “My lone remaining kidney is failing.” Now you can’t toss a rock in a crowd without hitting someone who is whining, “My taste buds are under-titillated.”
I’m sure I would be hanging on every word of a food influencer if I hosted dinner parties, but I don’t. My apron doesn’t say “Kiss the cook”; it says, “Phone me up and give me a short description of YOUR meal as we each enjoy our blessed solitude.”
I see that “climate-friendly” food has been a major trend this year. Vegan, plant-based diets. Meat-and-dairy-free “cheese” and “butcher” shops. (I’m leery of foods that come wrapped in quotation marks. What’s next? “Fry me up a piece of that iambic pentameter, Bubba”?) Sustainable seafood. *Sigh* In the old days, the only sustainable part of a good meal was a sustainable belch.
I noticed that a large percentage of the food trends were exacerbated by TikTok videos. So … a Chinese video-hosting site sucking up user data like a bumpkin slurping his soup is America’s “go to” place for gastronomic advice. I don’t think that’s the way Americans used to do things. (“Honey, why don’t you call up Joe Stalin and ask him how to make the casserole?”)
Thanks for letting me vent. I realize I may have to eat some of my words in 2023.
But if I smear my words on a butter board first…