The worst food trends of 2023

As the utter garbage fire that is 2023 comes to an end, I feel compelled to highlight the unique items and trends in the food world that I hope to never see again. Here’s to a brighter and more delicious 2024.

Awkward immersion

People chew with their mouths open, the word “moist” and scratch nails on a blackboard. A number of things can cause someone to flinch, cower, close their eyes, or cover their ears. This year for me it was the unhinged dunking.

I’ve seen countless videos of people dipping their chicken fingers, burritos, and sandwiches in cups of salsa and/or cream of ranch that were too small and too full of sauce. I won when the sauces overflowed and spilled onto tables and laps across the country. In the most offensive cases, the cups are completely overturned. At the risk of sounding like someone three times my age, or possibly my parents, I find the confusion and unnecessary waste of terms completely out of hand.

Call any cheesecake “Basque cheesecake.”

Warm it up Really Basque cheesecake or just a cheesecake?

(Bill Addison/Los Angeles Times)

A Basque cheesecake is a special type of cheesecake from this region of Spain. It is a crustless cheesecake baked at a high temperature, leaving the top burnt and the center left fluffy. If the cheesecake doesn’t have a creamy consistency in the middle, the top isn’t burnt or at least a deep brown color, and if it has any form of crust beyond the cheesecake browning into some sort of natural crust, then just call it one Cheesecake.

Girls’ dinner

You may have seen the girl dinner trend on TikTok. The sound of a woman saying, “This is my meal, I call this girl’s food” plays over a video of a plate filled with small leftover milk, popcorn kernels and pasta salad.

In another video, the same audio plays as a woman puts together some strawberries, a spread of cheese, and two hard-boiled eggs. Packaged macaroni and cheese in a wine glass with dinosaur nugget garnish. A bag of microwave popcorn. Moldy instant ramen noodles. A stack of cigarettes and a pink drink in a glass. A single piece of Swiss cheese. These are all “girl dinners” on TikTok.

Users seem to associate random food combinations with what a girl eats for dinner. There should never be absolute rules when it comes to dinner. But why does the term “girls’ food” have to imply that girls are incapable of doing more than throwing together random ingredients that may or may not be edible? And in some cases, such as the single piece of cheese, there is an aspect of diet culture that could potentially perpetuate unhealthy eating habits.

If we don’t call “girls’ dinner” a gender-neutral, I-can-eat-whatever-I-want dinner, let’s get rid of it.

Pasjoli chef Dave Beran posted a video in response to the review, saying the TikToker waited 20 minutes before taking a bite of the Canard à la Rouennais à la Presse, shown above.

(Allison Zaucha / For Los Angeles Times)

Can you trust a food review on TikTok? There are more than 38 billion videos with the hashtag #foodreview, used by foodies in their cars, rich kids in fancy restaurants, Disneyland stans eating in the park, and pretty much everything in between. Some are incredibly useful and entertaining. Some involve egregious and unethical abuses of a user’s influence and following.

Earlier this year, a TikTok personality named @mister.lewis posted a video of his review of Santa Monica restaurant Pasjoli on the app. It has more than 12 million views. In the video, he asks about the most expensive bottle of wine and appears to order a bottle of Chateau Margaux from 2000 worth $3,500.

He dramatically swirls some red wine in his glass. “What is that? Like a $1,000 jar,” he says.

Next he asks about the most expensive dish on the menu. He films chef Dave Beran preparing the duck à la Rouennaise à la presse. He takes a few bites of the duck and its various accompaniments, makes a few faces, and then says he’s heading to his car to give an honest review.

He reveals that he’s not normally a duck person and gives the duck a rating of 5 out of 10. “Was this duck worth $200?” Absolutely not.”

He then appears to feed his dog a piece of his leftover duck.

The only problem? Well, there are many. But first, said Beran, who posted a response to Lewis’ video in an Instagram story, Lewis never ordered or tried the 2000 Chateau Margaux. He canceled the bottle after filming himself ordering it and asked for a $26 glass of wine instead. Beran goes on to say that Lewis actually had the lowest checking average of the night. The chef also claims that Lewis let his food sit for “a good 20 minutes” before taking a bite.

There’s no telling how many of the millions of people who watched the video will let it influence their opinion of the restaurant. Videos like these are irresponsible, unethical and potentially harmful to the companies they highlight and to the livelihoods of their employees. If you post a review of something, be transparent and at least respectful.

Fake, meat-tasting “meat”

Fake meat is fraught with controversy. It has to taste good How Meat, or should it taste like real foods whose names I can pronounce?

(Eddie Guy / For The Times)

The proliferation of artificial meat is not actually a trend, but rather a growing multi-billion dollar industry. And I understand the sentiment behind it. Get people to eat less animal protein by serving them something that mimics meat. But the question remains: How far should imitation go before it becomes a problem? My plant-based burger shouldn’t have to “bleed.” It’s scary that as a society we can’t bring ourselves to accept plants that don’t look and taste like meat.

If the taste and texture of a patty made from soy protein concentrate and methylcellulose encourages you to eat less meat and therefore reduce your carbon footprint, that’s great. I just want my hamburger to be made with ingredients I can pronounce, be it beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, salmon – or mushrooms, black beans and barley.

Krispy Kreme rises to the challenge

Don’t smash your donuts.

(Chuck Burton/Associated Press)

It’s exactly what it sounds like. People order a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts, stack six, eight, or all twelve at once, then smash them into one large donut. Then they try to shove the now 12-in-1 donut into their mouth and eat it in one go. Just watching it makes my jaw hurt.

“I’m going to show you how to efficiently eat six donuts at once,” a woman says before she begins smashing and eating six donuts in a video.

Why?

Krispy Kreme donuts are magical because you can heat them with a hot light on and because the original’s delicate glaze is like a sheet of glass that breaks and then melts. And because the dough is soft and cuddly. If you smash it, you ruin the magic. Don’t destroy the magic.

The male-dominated power list

Everyone loves a good list, right? And why not recognize the who’s who of the restaurant world? The few hospitality strengths lists released this year seemed to primarily recognize the achievements of men and only recognize women who have a romantic or financial connection to a man. These lists also largely ignored women of color and the many women in Los Angeles and across the country who are making strides in the industry both locally and nationally.

Where was the recognition for the women who run Regarding Her, an organization that ensures funding and resources for women-owned businesses? I want to read a list that recognizes where the industry is actually going. I want lists that spark conversations and provide a step toward a more equitable future for all. And I’m sorry, but you can’t make a list like that and wipe out half of the total population at the same time.

Anything with truffle flavor

Truffles on a chicken dish with potatoes and broccoli.

(Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)

I enjoy a waterfall of shaved truffles cascading over my cake plate.

Real truffles are difficult to obtain, expensive and have a short shelf life. Their value is undeniable, and if you want to make something more luxurious, definitely shave a truffle over it. Even that one time I had truffles on my cheesecake made sense at the time. But “truffle flavored” with truffle oil is a different story. This fake, sharp, earthy scent permeates everything it touches. Truffle oil drizzled over everything is the monster on the hill, slowly heading towards my favorite food.

Guys, de-clutter your minds in 2024.

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Tomorrow, my list of food trends I hope to see more of in 2024.

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