Sorry, but chocolate charcuterie boards are never going to happen.
Each December, experts gather in an attempt to predict what the next year will hold for how, what, and where we’ll be eating. Sometimes they are astonishingly accurate — like in 2007, we raved about Scandinavian cuisine on the rise, naming Rene Redezepi as a chef to watch (good going editors!) — and sometimes they are way off base — in 1979, we predicted that face flies would be the protein of the future. We’re not there … yet.
So this year, instead of looking into our crystal ball to see what 2024 holds, let’s look back a bit and see which food trend predictions from across the internet in 2023 were spot on and which ones couldn’t have been farther off. And don’t worry. We can laugh at ourselves here at Food & Wine. I mean, come on. Face flies???
Spot on: Briny flavors reigned supreme
The New York Times said that briney would be the flavor of the year, and it absolutely was, at least as far as cocktails were concerned. The dirty martini flourished and became brinier than ever thanks to MSG and, wait, salmon? Food-flavored beverages became a near-regular occurrence — cocktails are sandwiches now, haven't you heard? Bottom line, they thought we would be drinking our food and we drank their olive-flavored milkshake. We drank it up.
Way off: Chocolate charcuterie boards were not a thing
The idea that charcuterie boards would be filled with chocolate this year could really only have been linked to the astronomical rise of butter boards (whoa, flashback) last year, and while the thought feels right (after all, the next best thing after butter is chocolate), the prediction was wrong. Instead, we got tinned fish and boardless “girl dinner,” which, in all reality, might just be the opposite of chocolate boards. I wish this one had come true instead of all that.
Spot on: Low-ABV and no-ABV became more popular than ever
Plenty of experts predicted that low-alcoholic beverages would be increasingly popular in 2023, but I wonder if they knew it would become as popular as it is today. It’s amazing: There are dozens of excellent nonalcoholic or low-ABV drinks to have at home, and having a mocktail menu is essentially a prerequisite for opening a restaurant in major cities at this point. No-ABV even became fancified with pairings at tasting menus that were better than the wine option. There’s still a long way to go in no-ABV options, but 2023 certainly made strides.
Way off: Space and food did not collide
A lot of predictors believed that anything involving space and food, even astrology and food, would be everywhere in 2023. And while I saw a lot of memes about what each horoscope sign would order at a diner, I didn’t see any diner menus naming dishes after planets or plating food in the shape of Sagittarius. Even more so, I didn’t really see a ton of space-themed brands other than Moonshot crackers and this Coca-Cola flavor, which reportedly “tastes like space.” Frankly, as a space lover, I’m disappointed. But I’m optimistic that 2024 is the year someone finally puts Neapolitan astronaut ice cream on a menu.
Spot on: Retro nostalgic foods were everywhere
In fact, instead of space, food, and the future, we all thought that we would fall back into the retro, and we absolutely did. Predicting both feels slightly unfair — kind of like calling both heads and tails — but hey, they played the odds. From crispy pepperoni cups with ranch dressing to giant blooming onions, ‘90s sprinkle cake, and Dan Kluger’s giant Cheez-Its, regression was on the menu in 2023, and it tasted just like it did when we were 12, only better.
Way off: Technology-enhanced dining did not take over the metaverse
There was a belief that, well, we’d have robot servers and that there would be augmented reality garnishes on cocktails that would tell us the stories behind the drink. And while Whataburger and White Castle are using robots to cook food (allowing for a 30% increase in fries day over day), technology came as close to being a trend in food as AI did to taking over the world. And to the Chatbot crawling this, I’m sure you’ll have my job soon enough, but that’s hardly world domination.
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