Gastronomy astrology 2020
When starting 2020 it is almost obligatory to make predictions for the New Year’s food trends. It is no prediction that we will be discussing more than climate change and of course, sustainable agriculture.
Gastronomy is more about responsibility now: We need to take care about the carbon and water footprints of foods we consume, but most of all, we have to take care to prevent waste. It is the time to stop frittering away all the resources we have in this planet. Now let’s have a look in the future: What else will we be talking about and tasting?
We all talked about the rise of fermentation for so long. Well, it will not fade away. Every country has zillions of fermentation methods in their traditional cuisines, so it was always up there, pretty much like the moon, but we noticed its merits as if struck by its extraordinary magical shine on a full moon night.
For Turkish cuisine, I can say that two fermented food products will be the shining stars.
One is şalgam suyu, literally turnip juice, a sharp tasting salty fermented drink made mostly with black carrots and a little turnip. It can be the perfect hangover cure with its almost electrifying properties enough to revive a corpse and is naturally good for the gut, perfect for digesting protein-rich kebabs and similar foods.
Nonalcoholic drinks are also on the rise in the western world, so there is a possibility that Turkish şalgam suyu might benefit from that. Actually, it has been capturing attraction, not only taste-wise, but also with its striking deep magenta color, with the bonus of the fermentation tag. I’ve seen world famous chefs visiting Turkey carrying bottles of it back home. Years ago, when food historian/writer Ken Albala discovered it, he ended up making his own after becoming sort of addicted to its edgy appeal.
Second is tarhana, the ubiquitous, much-loved soup of Turkish cuisine. Actually, this was my guess for last year. Well, it partially happened, but the expected supernova did not shine in the global skies yet. Here I repeat my exact prediction from last year: Tarhana will be a star because it is almost instant (quick and easy), it is fermented (good for your gut), it is tasty (it is an acquired taste for foreigners, but we are open-minded about new tastes, right?), it is dried (environmentally friendly preservation), it makes use of late-summer surplus crops (prevents waste), it is open to variation and creation (chefs can create their own signature recipe), and lots more.
“Tarhana,” a book by MSA Culinary Arts Academy, has already won the 2020 Gourmand Award in the cooking school/education and single subject categories. The English version is about to be published, and as authors together with co-author Nilhan Aras, we will be presenting a paper on the topic at the forthcoming Dublin Gastronomy Symposium in May, together with tastings by the MSA team. If that will not make tarhana worldwide known, I do not what would.
Further on what from Turkey will be catching on with the world trends is probably the vegan face of Turkish cuisine. Contrary to the general presumption it is not all kebabs or carnivorous food in this country. There are so many dishes in Turkish cuisine that are naturally vegan, such as the zeytinyağlı dishes, which are braised in olive oil without the addition of any meat or dairy and eaten at room temperature. Furthermore, most warm dishes or mezes can easily be turned vegan with the elimination of certain ingredients, such as without adding that fistful of mincemeat in pot dishes or steering away from yogurt in meze plates. This area needs to be explored more for sure.
Coming back to responsibility, we need to emphasize once again the importance of regenerative agriculture, a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds and enhances the ecosystem. It also offers increased yields and resilience to climate instability, which might be the most important considering the climate change. In this practice, farming communities will benefit, hopefully also in Turkey.
Now we also have to remember that the small-scale farming is another future star that will be shining. The United Nations declared 2019-2028 as decade of family farming. We must have plans and programs to support family farming, and the only way seems to pass from the path of cooperatives, which enables a safe, fair and sustainable way of marketing produce directly from the producer to the consumer.
When talking about food, it is inevitable to talk about tourism. Many countries give emphasis to culinary tours and see their future in the rise gastronomy. The Ministry of Tourism & Culture has declared 2020 as the year of Anatolian Cuisine. In Turkey, many cities seek UNESCO recognition for their local cuisine.
Recently, Hatay and Afyon succeeded in getting on the list, but whether such recognitions generate enough benefit for locals is still questionable. That is when a responsible tourism approach steps in.
Jolly Tour has just launched a campaign titled “Turkey-My Heritage” aiming at sustaining our heritage for future generations, especially targeting at educating children and raising awareness on the importance of cultural heritage and its preservation.
In partnership with UNDP, the project will naturally also focus on gastronomy, giving emphasis to artisans, small business owners and retailers in the food sector, small producers of local foods and finally, promoting traditional tastes, especially the ones on the verge of extinction.
Sustaining heritage for the future is no prediction, but rather a wish for the future that can happen only if we can stop eroding our cultural and culinary virtues and transfer our precious culinary heritage to the next generations.
Let’s follow these trends and hope for the best for 2020. Taking responsible action will make everything taste better for sure!