It’s that time of year when the experts look into their crystal balls and predict what we’ll be eating over the coming 12 months.
We’ve had a look at what’s being forecast and also made some predictions of our own.
Peru comes out of the dark
If 2011 was the year Mexican food moved more towards the mainstream, then we’re going further south this year - to Peru specifically.
Many commentators believe this is the year Peruvian food will go big, so prepare to be tantalised by tiradito and captivated by cuy (perhaps).
Meanwhile, when we’re not gastronomically adventuring, Food&drink towers predicts we will be continuing to go local in an attempt to reduce our environmental footprint. However, they say eating ethically is likely to decline, so could this spell the beginning of the end for organic ranges? Will a divide open up between people who can grow their own and those who can’t/won’t buy organic?
Growing your own is forecast to continue to increase and foraging for wild food is predicted to become more popular. As well as reducing our food miles, it sounds like we may be happier knowing exactly where some of our food has come from.
And going local globally
Leatherhead Food Research also sees a growing trend towards local foods. But it takes this a stage further by predicting that specialist local ingredients (it gives the example of Madagascan vanilla) will become more sought after. It believes that a food’s origin will increasingly act as a mark of quality.
The gap between the haves and the have-nots widens
In London over Christmas one venue was offering a menu consisting of food decorated with edible gold. Meanwhile things are so bad in Rochdale that even McDonald’s closed, and 2012 may well bring more of this. We might also see a rise is shoplifting, not of luxury items to 'fence' but of basic food for the family.
Similarly, they foresee, somewhat predictably, that we’ll be doing a lot more cooking at home as austerity continues to bite. As well as being borne out of economic necessity, they say this is also due to the increase in TV cookery programmes.
And austerity will also play a part in our food choices. Game and offal are widely predicted to continue their growth. Most UK supermarkets are already reporting increased sales of these meats. Waitrose is now stocking lamb and veal hearts, sweetbreads and veal tail.
Wood you believe it?
And talking of exotic ingredients, a few forecasts say we’ll be eating more ‘earthy’ food as the trend for flavouring dishes with ingredients such as pine and fir is likely to grow.
Leatherhead also believes that people will be looking for more ‘premium’ flavour combinations, citing lavender in dark chocolate as just one example.
Fun's back on the menu
But The Food People say that we’ll be looking for fun, not fine dining and that there will be a 'molecular regress', which we presume means a move away from the more extreme fringes of culinary invention.
They also predict a growth in the already burgeoning street food and supper club scenes, with more pop-ups, karts, kiosks and night markets.
We’ll take a look back at the end of the year to see how much of this actually came to pass on our plates.
What do you think will be the food trends for the coming year? What are you most excited about gastronomically in 2012? Let us know in the Comments box below.