Posted by: oysterculture | January 1, 2009

Comfort Food – the big trend of 2009

They say, those trend soothsayers, that 2009 will be the year of comfort food.  I say its not a trend, its here – and not for the reason given.  You guessed it – the economy.  For sometime, we’ve seen “retro” or “comfort” (used here interchangeably) food on the menu, maybe not the same as mom’s.  (My mother never added truffles to her mac n’ cheese, I’m not sure she knew of truffles when we were kids)  Life goes at a faster pace, and eating the food of our childhood is like taking a calming breath, or yoga with different results. 

Retro cocktails were garnering attention long before the value of my savings account plunged by double digits percentages.  Restaurants serving “comfort” food never went away – consider those ubiquitous diners.  I wonder if anyone told them they were ahead of their time.  

Sears Food in San Francisco

Sears Food in San Francisco

2009 should be the year of the home cook, which is no surprise.  Past experience tells us that eating out, especially in a big way,  is among the first activities cut when money gets tight.  Restaurant spending has dropped; I think the term flat lined was used, to 0.8% year over year from November of last year according to SpendingPulse, a research subsidiary of MasterCard.

Instead, people shall focus more on home cooking with basic ingredients such as beans, pasta and chicken leading the pack.  Those home chefs that splurge will not necessarily buy caviar or other exotic ingredients, but elect to indulge in quality, locally grown organic food.

Spam, if you consider that a basic, has even made a roaring comeback.  I draw the line there, I know spam has great appeal in many parts of the world, but I missed the boat.  In a listserv I participate in, one of the members pointed out that cost per pound spam was higher than a lot of perceived alternatives.  Even options like beef are cheaper, so some other factors may be at work, but for the life of me I am not sure what they are.  Maybe its demographics, early adapters of this ‘trend’ heart spam. 

Those futerists say that restaurant dinners are predicted to drop experimental foods from favor.  Molecular gastronomy will not be hip this year.  People will trend to the familiar.  The experts predict smaller plates, to keep costs down and allow the dinners to share, will become popular.   I am curious to hear what you think.

 And with those sweeping projections I wish everyone a Happy New Year!



  1. “Once hip, bottled water is now unforgivably ’90s.”
    Time Magazine, Top 10 Food Trends of 2008

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