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The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
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is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 12.29.04
Montreal

GREG DUNCAN

Food Trends 2005

The year 2004 has seen its share of culinary controversy and important food industry issues. We have read about the ongoing crisis in the Canadian beef industry, the plight of our farmers as they struggle to produce our food for the table while going broke and the never-ending good fat versus bad fat dilemma.

It was a year of dieting and readers engaged in South Beach, Atkins and low-carb eating regimens. However a large number of you continued to embrace such wonderful atrocities as the doughnut and poutine.

Others turned to organic produce while seeking refuge from a media storm that served only to confuse. By the end of this year I am not sure we have gained confidence in anything we eat.

What was deemed bad for us a short ten years ago became good overnight, and what was good for us suddenly became bad.

Blame it in large part on studies paid for by corporate food and beverage giants with a lot to gain by touting the benefits of their particular product.

Alcohol, including wine and beer, apparently used to kill us. Now it staves off heart attacks and thins the blood.

Our mothers were told that margarine was a healthy alternative to butter. Now it turns out that Mom might have been killing us with trans fats and hydrogenated vegetable oils.

The quest for healthy food and quality information continues, as does the need to put sustenance on our table in a too -busy world. This, then, will be the primary food trend for 2005.

I have assembled a list of "hot or not" food trends for the coming year along with an easy breakfast idea for a bleary-eyed holiday crowd. The cook needs only to put it together the day before and bake it the following morning.

Have a great holiday and take it easy on the chocolate truffles, eh?

UPWARD & CONTINUING TRENDS FOR 2005

Cold Sake: this food-friendly drink became the hip and happening drink in 2004 and is likely to become established as a popular choice for both cocktails and at the table.

Blueberries: Touted as a power food by various associations and publications in 2004, blueberries are turning up in recipes and products more and more often.

High Fiber: Due to the increasing popularity of good carbs this often-neglected nutrient is now basking in the limelight and being touted as the key to weight loss by stars such as Ren&eacue;e Zellweger.

Cereal: From a chain of cereal cafes to recipes that use cereal as an ingredient, this morning basic is turning up 24/7 due to the new interest in fiber.

Barbecued Ribs: blame it on Atkins, Mad Cow, or Avian Flu but pork is popular - especially tender, gooey ribs.

Oysters: Whether raw, cooked or smoked, these sea creatures were popular with chefs who cook both inland and at the shore. They will increase in popularity.

Gourmet Soup Products: touted as restaurant quality and chef's choice, soup flavors are evolving from homey to haute.

Fresh Cut Produce: broccoli slaw, threaded snap peas and other products take bagged veggies beyond tumbled carrots.

Toast: Toast was one of our trends to watch last year and, sure enough, chains like Subway and Mr. Sub have all installed toasters to get on the bandwagon.

Chipotle: From homemade suppers to fine dining, smoked jalapeno flavored sauces and other foods are well on their way to becoming mainstream.

Pâté and Terrines: Although seared and pressed foie gras is still a very popular menu item in fine dining restaurants, many chefs have been exploring the more humble and rustic realm of pâté and terrines.

On the way out

Low-Carb: Although likely to rear its skinny head again after New Year's Day, this trend has been deflated by news from the scientific community that such diets only work when fewer calories are ingested and by consumer fatigue with having to avoid so many delicious foods. Although declining, the projection is that this trend will have long-lasting effects until the next big diet fad.

Apple-Raisin French toast casserole

1-cup brown sugar
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2-cup butter, melted
3 apples - peeled, cored and sliced
1/2-cup raisins
1 large French baguette, cut into 1-inch slices
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1-tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions

Grease a 9x13 inch-baking dish. In a large bowl, mix together brown sugar and 1teaspoon cinnamon. Mix in melted butter. Stir in apples and raisins until evenly coated. Pour into prepared pan. Arrange bread slices in an even layer over apples. In the bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Pour over bread; making sure every slice is fully soaked. Cover with aluminum foil, and refrigerated overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Remove dish from refrigerator while the oven is heating. Bake covered for 40 minutes. Remove cover, and bake 5 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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