Press Cuttings: January 2020

31 January, 2020

Recent Snippets of Significance from the Press

Goodbye 2019
With the decade drawing to a close food critic and restaurateur Tim Hayward, writing in The Guardian, takes an intriguing look back at some of the bigger food news, trends and developments of the past 10 years and. Some of the biggest changes we have seen have been to do with the growth of new technology, with Instagram, Online review and booking sites and home delivery apps all now ubiquitous and having a huge influence on the way we eat and interact with food. Other trends include the rise of street food, supper clubs and popups and in contrast to this, a move away from fussy fine dining and the slow decline of the celebrity chef. A great read.

Past Heroes
On a similar theme, The Guardian has another article, this time by Zoe Williams discussing her six food heroes of the past decade. She avoids focusing on specific restaurants on the basis that she doesn’t believe that they alter anyone’s eating habits all that much, and instead focuses on the six people or places that have had the biggest impact on her foundational food assumptions over the past 10 years. These include Wildes Cheeses, which is simply two guys from North London who make excellent artisan cheese that is now stocked in Fortnum & Mason – proof that it’s possible for anyone with the passion and drive to make inroads into the cheese industry. Interestingly Williams also cites Greggs bakers, which, by starting to sell vegan sausage rolls have proved that the rise of veganism and plant-based eating is no fad, but is representative of an actual shift in the way we are now eating.

Welcome to 2020
While the former articles take a look back at our eating habits over the past decade, The Guardian has an article that looks the future, and offers up some ideas as to the foods that we may be consuming in 2050. Given the current focus on how unsustainable the meat industry is, the prediction that in 30 years we’ll all be eating either a plant-based diet or lab-cultivated meat seems wholly plausible, while it’s also fairly certain that climate change and water shortages will have a major impact on what crops we can grow. The article concludes by stating that what we should be aiming to eat in 2050 is actually much like what we should be aiming to eat now, namely more fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and less junk food, meat and dairy.

Just How Healthy is a Vegan Diet?
Veganism has gone from strength to strength over the past few years and one of reasons that many people are choosing to switch to this non-animal diet is because of the perceived positive health benefits surrounding it. However many scientists and dietitians are still unsure as to how accurate these health claims actually are, especially given that this is a relatively recent trend and little research has been done into its long-term consequences and whether it even holds significant advantages over an omnivorous or vegetarian diet. With this in mind, David Cox has written this interesting piece in The Observer that looks into this in greater detail with a focus on the dietary choices of professional athletes.

A Salty Tale
Potato crisps have been mass-produced since the early 1900s, however it wasn’t until the late 1950s that the first flavoured crisp hit the market, when Irish company Tayto launched a cheese and onion version. The classic salt and vinegar flavoured crisp didn’t appear until a decade later in 1967, however since then the range of flavourings has only continued to grow, especially over the past 10-15 years. These days there are literally 100s of different seasonings to cater for all tastes – from the likes of relatively plain BBQ, sweet chilli or mature cheddar to the more exotic baked camembert, katsu curry or pink peppercorn gin. The Guardian has an interesting article that looks at both the history of such crisp flavourings and also the development processes behind them.

Plant-based Fast Casual
The FT reports that the US soup and sandwich chain Panera Bread is set to reduce meat-based items on its menu by a third as a reaction to increasing consumer demand for plant-led alternatives. With a quarter of its menu already meat-free this shift means that it will now double to half, although to reduce any customer backlash, diners will still be able to customise their dishes with added meat. Panera Bread is part of the JAB Holdings investment company, which also includes Pret A Manger, and the fact that such a mainstream establishment is adopting these changes is a reflection of just how widespread this dietary shift towards eating less meat is becoming.

Instagram Anger
Although he’s been out of the public eye for a good few years now, Heston Blumenthal is back with a new TV series called Crazy Delicious, and in the run up to this has been doing a number of press interviews, during one of which he proclaimed his dislike of people taking too many pictures of his food. Writing in The Guardian George Reynolds points that this is fairly hypocritical given that the modernist food he is famous for is all about stimulating the senses, not just orally but aurally and visually too. In fact, someone as forward-thinking as Blumenthal should be embracing such technology and not complaining about it, especially as the culture of diners posting Instagram pictures of their food is something that is unlikely to diminish anytime soon.

Sandwiches are Filling Out
The Guardian reports on the trend for increasingly fancy and costly sandwiches, and asks the all-important question of whether a sandwich is ever worth £14.00. It turns out that there are plenty of us out there willing to pay this sort of price, especially given that most of these pimped up sandwiches are lovingly made, full of expensive ingredients and often are a meal in themselves. The fact that there are now a number of dedicated, chef-led sandwich bars open in the capital proves that the UK’s love of the sandwich, humble or not, shows no sign of disappearing anytime soon.

A Small Story about Plates
Writing in The Guardian Zoe Williams takes a light-hearted look at the current trend for small plates – or as she calls it the Shoreditch service – and compares it to some of the historical ways in which food has been plated and served. From the overflowing buffets of the traditional French way of eating back in the 18th Century to the introduction of the Russian service – the idea of eating a meal as a series of courses, bought one after the other was, it seems that over time we have slowly been adopting smaller and smaller portion sizes. As for the future, well maybe with veganism on the rise we’ll see a return to the good old days where a plate of food is actually designed to fill us up.