It is sometimes difficult to keep up with the constant arrival of novelties on the gastronomic scene due to the speed at which they appear. In the last few years, the diversification in dietary styles has seen these innovations multiply and they are coming from all sides.
It is likely that 2018 will be marked by the concept of 'food on demand' that Ferrán Adriá anticipated - ingredients that seek to satisfy an informed public, eager for healthy foods and traceability, but also low in calories. And in catering, innovations are moving more and more towards themed premises that break away from classic offerings and are directed at a very specific public. The menu is varied. Sit down and take note.
Transparency in labelling and knowing exactly what the food we buy is composed of, is not a new idea, but now the consumer also wants to know in detail where it comes from and how it is produced. Twenty-nine per cent of all new food launches already use the origin to add prestige to their product, especially if it is locally produced. Local products are fashionable, and if it isn't local, then it must have other values such as sustainability or ethical production.
We live in a world with limited natural resources and sustainability means reducing food waste. The skins of fruits and vegetables are also food, and in the US, supermarkets are already stocking products such as pickled watermelon rinds or pestos made with the stems of herbs. The good thing about these ideas is that they can also be adopted at home.
The growing percentage of consumers who have a diet almost exclusively of plant products, are forcing catering establishments to modify their menus, including options to satisfy these clients. The data shows that soon, vegetables will represent 80 per cent of the gastronomic offering.
The aspiration to have a healthier diet which at the same time is more respectful to the environment leads to new foods such as 'meat' made from vegetable proteins. Pulses, grains and nuts already feature in the ingredients of burgers, sausages and cutlets, improving the flavour and texture.
Irresistible to many, desserts have also seen changes to consumer habits. Vegan sweets, made without animal products, are the latest innovation and use vegetable milks, substituting coconut oil for butter and flax seed for eggs.
The big beverage manufacturers are reducing the sugar content in their products notably, far exceeding the conventional 'light', 'diet' or 'zero' labels. The increase will be in production of water-based, fruity, sparkling drinks.
Just a few years ago we were looking for energy drinks and products that helped us to get through a tough day. Now the aim is to maintain balance and emotional peace, benefits that are promoted by products such as chewing-gum with plant extracts, vitamin shakes or drinks made with tea and other natural ingredients that promise to reduce stress and anxiety.
Superfoods are back in powdered form and can be incorporated easily into smoothies, soups, biscuits and nutritional bars. Matcha tea, maca root, cocoa, spirulina, kale and collagen come in the form of powders with the aim of becoming part of our everyday diet. From now on, incorporating extra vitamins and minerals to meals is going to be a much easier task.
No, we're not talking about brunch but a healthy snack that we can consume just before or after daily exercise, snatching a moment of peace in a frenetic lifestyle.
Flowers have made their mark on haute cuisine as decorative elements in recent years, but aromatic flowers such as rose, jasmine and lavender have been used since ancient times to add aroma and flavour. In 2018, the rose, lavender and hibiscus flower will be present in various savoury dishes, in teas and cereals, in coffees, cocktails and desserts.
Sugar is increasingly seen as a public health problem. Therefore this year, low-calorie sweeteners and low-processed sugars such as stevia, panela or date honey are going to be popular.
Although 92% of the Spanish food budget is still spent in shops, the giants of e-commerce, which already deliver fresh foods, are increasing their market share with personalised offers of fruits, vegetables and fresh products delivered to your home just by clicking.
Kits for the perfect meal
Home cooking evolves in response to those who want to eat healthily and cook themselves. In the US, companies such as 'Blue Apron', an online store that delivers the exact ingredients and the recipe for a particular dish to your home, is already a success. Kits that make life easier in many kitchens, and which promise that by following the recipe to the letter you will get excellent results, have now updated their repertoire with healthy meals low in calories and haute cuisine.
Most people will remember 'exploding candy'. Well, the surprise effect is still a trend in 2018, but times are advancing and now we find drinks with unusual textures and explosions of fruit and other surprises such as aloe vera water or quinoa or chia drinks. This trend also includes the world of ice cream and biscuits, which incorporate 'surprises' in their search for new sensations and contrasts.
The supermarket revolution
A few years ago, supermarkets were boring and unglamorous. But the food chains do not want to be left out of the gourmet fever, and are updating their stock with special gourmet lines. Supermarkets now stock everything from the exotic to specialised diets and haute cuisine. They will have to continue updating according to surveys such as the one carried out recently in Canada in which 39 per cent of Canadian consumers thought that the products should be themed for different occasions, meals and dinners.
Flavours of the Middle East
Every year, the world looks at an area of the planet to incorporate its gastronomic techniques and flavours into the global menu. In 2018, the Middle East comes to the fore, but not with the already popular hummus, falafel or pita bread, sold in most supermarkets. Now it's the turn of spices. The scent of cardamom, the surprising lemony flavor of sumac, or zatar - a mixture of golden sesame, oregano, sumac and salt - will add magic to dishes.
The power of tacos
Taco fever has crossed the Atlantic and can be seen in various combinations. These Mexican corn tortillas stuffed with ingredients such as cheese, fish or meat, now incorporate new ingredients, not only the typical savoury fillings, but also sweet. Look out for tacos filled with ice cream, cream and chocolate.
Arepas, pancakes made from maize flour and cooked under the grill or on a griddle, are creating a lot of interest due to their versatility. They can be filled with cheese, meat, fish, vegetables or salads. The arepa, originally from Venezuela, is already popular in the Canary Islands and is now finding its way into the kitchens of top chefs.
Not just sushi and ramen
Sushi has been king of global gastronomy for years now and Japanese cuisine still has much to offer. The latest to arrive Spain last year was ramen. This year is the turn of the 'tonkatsu' (breaded pork chop), the 'sukiyaki' ( meat, vegetables and egg in a bowl), or skewers 'yakitori' style.
Gochujang, hotter still
Still think tabasco is as hot as it gets? Well, in the world of hot sauces new trends are revealing spicy products from all over the world. The latest is from Korea, the gochujang sauce made from a base of red chilis, rice and fermented soya.