Thu 29 Apr, 2004 08:07 am
Food and meal trends are coming over us. One year its sushi, the next year its italian food and just now (at least here in Sweden) the lebanese cuisine is very popular on the most fancy restaurants. I have always wondered; What is the purpose of trends for us human beings? Why do we create them (or don't we?)? And can a trend be made up or "constructed"? And are the food trends connected to fashion trends or other trends? I haven´t got any brilliant answers but it would be intreresting to here some reflections on this topic. I mainly think that trends are social expressions, a way of cultural communication with each other. And since we constantly seek new ways to express our selves the trends must change. If the trends do not develop any more we also have got a stand still in our development as humans beings. Or????
I would suggest that people are easily bored, and easily amused. "Trends" would seem to me to be an example of the canny promotor taking advantage of this to reap a profit. If all the restaurants are doing carribean cuisine, and you want to capture a big portion of the market, it would make sense to try to convince people that the cuisine you wish to promote is the new, trendy cuisine. We (in the industrialized world) live in societies which can be characterized by the amount of leisure time and prosperity available to the populations. My grandfather, with whom i lived as a child, worked 60 hours per week. If one is now working 40 hours, what to do with the spare 20 hours? I would say trends result from a combination of boredom and marketing exploitation.
My guess is that "trends" started back in the Stone Age. Perhaps someone decided that "dinner" looked--and tasted--better on a dock leaf than eaten from a rotting log. High cuisine took another step forward when the stem was pinched off the dock leaf--just for pretty--no difference in the taste.
Humans are not genetically engineered for moments of boredom. Trends, whether in food or fashion or intellectual thought, are a way of banishing boredom.
Any animal in a new space will explore that space. One of the characteristics of humanity is that some of us can create new spaces which the rest of us delight in exploring.
A bored animal is not particularly alert. Trends hone alertness and promote survival.
Welcome to A2K.
My experience of eating out in Sweden is relatively limited, so I'm not really aware of trends there. On my trips there, we eat mostly at home (stay with friends!)
With the exception of "meal of the day" (?dagens ratt?), eating out is horrifically expensive - to someone from Australia. I understand that Sweden imports quite a lot of their food, at a cost.
I found cuisine that required fresh vegetables wasn't so good. In regional supermarkets, the quality of fresh fruit and vegetables wasn't great. I didn't spend much time in Stockholm recently, although, on a previous trip, we visited a market somewhere in the city, with amazing variety (at a cost!).
Perhaps Lebanese food can be made to be tasty with a large input of fresh vegetables, so may be able to be prepared less expensively. Good food that's less expensive, would surely be popular.
Even food grown in Sweden is quite expensive - but we had some wonderful strawberries there last mid-sommar.
Enjoy your summer!
Interesting comments on trends and their origin. The internet must be of major importance as a trend "distributor". I have done some reserach on how chefs get inspired in their work with creating new dishes, and many of them says that the net is a good source. Swedish chefs says that the look at El Bullis homepage (Spain) and at home pages at trendy restaurants in London and New York.
Margo - Yes Sweden is expensive but it's more as a consequence of high wages and high taxes, than that we import raw products. So going on restaurant is rather expensive (high staff costs) but cooking yourself has become rather cheap since we joined the EU in 1995. "Dagen ratt" (todays course) is still not so expesive, around 60 SEK (approx. 7 dollars) for a lunch meal, everything included.
Margo - Yes I agree that the food on restaurants in Sweden are not so good, especially not the food at the cheaper restaurants, not to mention the road restaurants. Often to little vegetables and to often to fat. We still have a tradition of eating high energy food as we prepared our selfs for hard work in the forrests or out in the fields. Our national team of chefs has won the olympics in gastronomy, but you see very little results of that in the lunch restaurants. How is the food in Australia, I mean the daily and not so extravagant lunch food?
I remember seeing information about el Bullis, or however you spell it, a while ago, and thinking that the cooking was quite complicated... but at this point I don't remember why I thought that. I should add that I am not entirely put off by complicated food.
anyway, welcome to a2k, richardstewart.
Richard Stewart wrote:
Yes - not so expensive - but usually not so good, either! I guess the equivalent of cafeteria food. At cafeteria cost! (and 60SEK is $AUS12!)
"Dagen ratt" (todays course) is still not so expesive, around 60 SEK (approx. 7 dollars) for a lunch meal, everything included.
The best deal was the meatballs at Ikea!
Doesn't seem expensive - I just spent that amount on a sandwich and can of diet Coke for my lunch! Then again, that's London prices!
I think food trends arise from certain "leaders" of a new line of cooking, who are then copied by the rest. I remember the first time I tasted a sun-dried tomato. It was interesting and different. Three years later, I was sick of them turning up in unexpected places, as cooks with no better ideas would stick them in their dishes in order to get that "authentic Italian" thing going!
I agree, KP. Any food trend or ingredient needs a deft hand and an eye for continuity, and sadly many chefs are not up to the task.
The Dagen ratt (we used to call them daggy rats) is not expensive, but also not very good.
We probably have the equivalent in the $6.50 (about 30SEK) (3 pounds UK) lunch time special that most of the local Asian restaurants do. A short list of their basic menu options, served with rice or noodles. We're building up a collection of places that serve this, as we have no food outlets within walking distance of work (except McDonalds and KFC)