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Updated: October 26, 2012 14:54 IST
THE RELUCTANT GOURMET

Cross-border cuisine

Shonali muthalaly
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GLOBAL TRIP Indian street food is expected to explode in 2012
GLOBAL TRIP Indian street food is expected to explode in 2012

What’s in and what’s out in 2012? Andrew Freeman & Co list the future trends

Grilled cheese sandwiches, designer chaat and Caphirina trucks. If the predictions of San-Francisco-based hospitality consulting-agency, Andrew Freeman & Co., are to be believed, 2012 is going to be colourful.

Of course December is all about sweeping statements. All ‘industry watchers' are looking back on the year gone by, and speculating about future trends. In this bustle Andrew Freeman & Co stands out because they have a reputation for coming out with sassily presented ideas — many of which are spot on. Previous hits include predicting the ‘Nordic Invasion.' (Scandinavian design, marked by minimalism, functionality and low costs, is flooding the world. Think Ikea.) On the food front, pies replacing cupcakes, miniature versions of popular food and edible souvenirs in hotels.

So what will you be eating next year? Andrew Freeman & Co's ‘Passion Collection 2012: The Hottest Trends and Predictions for Hotels, Restaurants, and Spas in the Next Year' starts with paean to the potato. If you're a carbohydrate hating, Atkin eater, this is not the best news. But then, who can resist a French fry? This is the year of fry menus. Choose your cut, colour and sauce. Watch fries arrive in twists, twirls and curls. Bedecked with artisan toppings — pesto, peanut sauce and curry; gruyere, chunky chilli and truffle oil. No one is immune. Burger King recently introduced a new recipe featuring thicker fries with reduced sodium to take on Wendy's with their ‘natural cut fries with sea salt', and some skin to remind people about the potato's “all-natural origin.”

If that's too new age for you, try a grilled cheese sandwich. It's not just nursery school food anymore. Apparently “Melt in Your Hands Grilled Cheese is the New Burger.” Of course this isn't just cheddar in packaged bread. There are gourmet interpretations and creative variations to this classic. Think rustic farmers bread, jalapeno loaves, crusty Parisian baguettes — all teamed with a carefully combined blend of sharp and mellow cheeses. To be honest, my favourite style is far more ‘auto-driver' than diamond dripping socialite. A friend showed me how to butter both sides of the bread and then sprinkle them with chilli powder and salt, before toasting the greasy result with a block of cheese. We pair it with a deadly concoction one of our French interns taught us: rum blended with chilled condensed milk. (Cholesterol alert. When you visit me in the hospital, it would be nice if you brought flowers.)

You won't need to mess around with blenders if the next prediction comes true. The rise of cocktail trucks. Not very likely in India, but useful to know if you're thirsty in San Fransisco, or The Big Apple. New York's food trucks have already become immensely popular with their loyal fans and active Twitter accounts to alert people about their locations. Now imagine a truck doling out Bloody Marys and Long Island Ice Teas.

Though who needs a martini when you can have golgappas? Indian street food is expected to explode in 2012 — and about time too. Indian chaat is really quite extraordinary with its fearless tumble of flavours, colours and textures. The world is finally moving on from naans and butter chicken. Regional food is making inroads into fine dining. So is aloo tikki chaat.

It's not just Indian food. Other countries are flexing their culinary muscle. Eastern European Food, for instance. Think Russian, Polish, German, Austrian, Hungarian Jewish Delis. A nice change from pastas, fried rice and hummus. They will always be popular — but expanding horizons are definitely a good thing.

Need some entertainment when you eat? Prepare to watch chefs create hand pulled noodles in front of you. This was once a fading art. Now, it's supper theatre. Also keep your eyes peeled for Vegetable Desserts, which hopefully taste better than they sound. As chefs experiment with flavours, trying to create something new to excite blasé diners, vegetables are the new frontier. Well, in theory. In reality, Italian Chef Danny Russo introduced me to layered chocolate eggplant, fried in nutmeg and topped with crunchy nuts. Attention-grabbing experimental food? Actually, it's a recipe dating back to the 18th Century, which he ate growing up.

Wasn't it Shakespeare who said there is “nothing new, but that which is/ Hath been before”.

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Shonali MuthalalyMay 11, 2012


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