Watch your plate in 2019!
End of December is the time when the food trends of the coming year are announced by leading food magazines, newspapers or self-appointed trendsetters. From these trend lists, we usually learn with dread that we’ll be eating insects, lab-grown meat, some grains we’ve never heard of, and other oddities such as eating marijuana and dinners prepared by robots. Do not panic, they won’t happen, at least not in 2019, and definitely not in this part of the world. However, there are indeed rising trends, some are for real, some are fashionable claims chefs like to stick, such as locavorism and avoiding waste. Here are some random thoughts for next year.
- Diets of all sorts are ever here, the most relevant seems to be intermittent fasting now. Last year paleo-diet was so out, as veganism was very much in. Keeping vegan is not easy in this yogurt-lovers-land, and we do have our occasional eggs sneaking into wheaten products, and who drinks rakı without white cheese, so going vegetarian might be easy, but life is tough for vegans in Turkey. But do not despair; we have to remember that many people in this geography used to go strictly vegan for a long period before Easter; Orthodox Greeks and Armenians had to abstain from everything meat and dairy in the Lenten period. Why not give it a try this spring? Lenten periods vary according to churches, but it is not about your faith, but your commitment to your health and welfare of environment, so set your dates try to stick to a non-meat, non-dairy eating habit from mid-February, to end-April, it may remain with you forever, or at least you’ll be having a good spring detox.
- Fermentation was big, and remains to be so. I always predict that tarhana, the ultimate fermented food of Turkish cuisine, will be the hottest trend in the world, but it never happens. Let 2019 be the year for that. Tarhana is an almost instant soup (quick & easy), it is fermented (good for your gut), it is tasty (well, to admit it is an acquired taste for foreigners but one can easily adopt to novelties, right?), it is dried (an environmentally friendly way of preservation), it is makes use of late-summer surplus vegetables (remember the prevent waste trend!), it is open to variation (chefs can create their own signature tarhana recipe, after all that was Turkish mothers used to do), and lots more. OK, I’ll confess, I’m one of the writers and editors of a new book solely on tarhana that will be published by MSA, The Culinary Arts Academy in Istanbul. Hopefully, the English version will open new horizons to world chefs.
- Georgian food is up and coming, but I’ll give you a clue, Turkey will benefit from that. Georgia is investing greatly in gastronomy tourism, and its cuisine is so exciting that it deserves its rightful place in the world gastronomy. The food in Georgia has this distinctive and unique taste palette that comes from blue fenugreek, fresh or seed coriander, and marigold petals, that might be a bit difficult for Turkish people who usually detest coriander, but we also have so much in common. They have a whole range of pide-alikes, such as khachapuris. We have hopes for the world recognition of pide, especially after the great restaurateur Alan Yau, who had successfully created so many restaurants, had put his golden-touch to pide, his new venture being the London pide house Yamabahçe, why not join forces with our Georgian friends, and make pide and khachapuri the next big food trend against the pizza. By the way, they really have good ones in Tbilisi, I fondly remember the amazing acharuli we ate at No:1, the a modern kachapuri place that served excellent ones.
- When we mention Georgia, it is inevitable to mention orange wine, (no not from oranges, but the natural wine that has hues of orange colors), but the natural qvevri wine made in terra cotta vessels. Natural wine is very few in Turkey, there was practically no producers except Gelveri wine in Cappadocia, now Chamlija winery in Thrace joined the trend, and produced its first natural orange hued wine. It will surely not be a year of orange wines in Turkey, but Turkish wines will be more varied and Turkish grapes will get more recognition. That I can say especially for Öküzgözü grape, tagged also as the Pinot Noir of Anatolia, one of the biggest companies in Turkey took the step to have a special glass for their Öküzgözü wines. Designed and produced by the world-famous Riedel glassware, this new Öküzgözü glass will have world attention, of course together with their multiple award winning Prestige Öküzgözü 2012 and Pendore Öküzgözü 2015 monosepage wines.
- We’ll definitely be talking more about design and food. My recent visit to Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao made me think that architecture is also closely related with our food experiences. Turkey is taking baby steps in realizing that, we destroy our architectural heritage fast, and do not put any good design to replace it, but at least we do have several good designers and artisans that produce fantastic products. I’m giving my oath to contribute that, I here announce that I’ll be writing more about our talented designers, unfortunately remaining unrecognized and anonymous. At least it is my debt to the architectural faculty I graduated.
- Chefs have long started follow this farm to table trend, which eventually made them talk more about their stories, then their food. Sometimes their tales are true, sometimes it is just blabber. How there is a truly new approach in dining scene, a guide that will talk about truths. “Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery: A Guide to the Truly Good Restaurants and Food Experiences of the World”, is a new dining guide that aims to identify those restaurants and food experiences that go above and beyond great food and wine in the ethical and sustainable ways with which they run their business. I’m proudly the country editor; the world edition has 10 carefully chosen restaurants from Turkey. Watch out for this column to hear about their true stories!
Last but not least, let 2019 be a year for recognizing poverty and despair of refugees, and people who come to Turkey for work, overall all the people who are away from tastes of their countries. We need to open them new opportunities, new eateries are popping up in many cities of Turkey, with may be Istanbul taking the lead, and becoming a center for Central Asian, Asian, Iranian, and above all Syrian food. Our food will be more diversified with them, like it had always proved to be so in history.