Husna T. Ghani
We had quite the character-building year last year. The year 2020 will go down in history not just because of the global pandemic but also for testing our patience while in lockdown. How did we stay with the same bubble of people for an entire year without losing our gray matter? We turned to food! Last year gave us enough new food trends to get us through the tough times (and the COVID-“19” may end up referring to the nineteen pounds we gained).
Being stuck at home made us all into chefs, and social media fueled the culinary fire. We had Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, and a slew of other time-zapping applications. Before social media, we obtained our recipe ideas from cookbooks, then cooking shows on television, and not too long ago, from blogs. Now we can access food trends from chefs around the world from every age range and ethnicity. Zainab Ismail is a New York-based movement therapist and holistic nutritionist with twenty-five years of experience, and she has clients from all over the world who take inspiration from her strong Instagram presence. She says the reason social media has become the place for food inspiration is because “[it] is readily available. It’s a quick, fast jolt of adrenaline…We just hit a button on a phone and get abridged versions of recipes.”
What were some food trends we found ourselves making this past year? Social media had us looking at sourdough bread through a new lens. At times, people were prouder of their sourdough starters than their children, posting each and every step of their carbohydrate concoctions. Once we realized we needed to stay awake after all that bread, we turned to caffeine. Dalgona coffee, named after a Korean sugary treat, is also known as whipped coffee. It contains a mixture of equal parts coffee, sugar, and water, which is then beaten by hand. Coffee has been made this way in many homes in the Eastern Hemisphere for decades. However, once TikTok users got hold of the recipe, it went viral.
We could not believe our eyes when we saw a filled sphere of chocolate combust in hot milk. Yes, we discovered hot chocolate bombs. These are composed of melted chocolate set in half of a spherical silicon mold. Once the chocolate has cooled and solidified, hot chocolate powder and mini marshmallows are added to the hollow space and then sealed with chocolate set in the other half of the mold. The best part is when hot milk is poured over the final product. When this happens, the chocolate bomb explodes in the cup.
Vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free consumers were given a slew of new choices last year. Many of these choices were so appealing that even people who were not bothered by dairy or gluten could not resist making them! Every type of nut and grain was turned into milk, and there were plenty of tutorials on how to make your own at home. Pea milk and pea protein also made their presence felt. Lastly, gluten-free desserts had never seen a better year, and I myself indulged in brownies made from almond flour, coconut flour, and oat flour.
If cauliflower owned 2019, then chickpeas owned 2020. People whipped the liquid from canned chickpeas (known as aquafaba) to use in lieu of whipped cream. I still have not figured out why. We also rediscovered banana bread. The lockdown had us baking banana muffins, banana cakes, and banana bread—though all three are essentially the same thing, just in different shapes. We did have some savory items as well. We got down to making charcuterie boards once we finally learned how to pronounce the word. The purists kept it traditional with cheeses, vegetables, and meats. However, hot cocoa and dessert charcuterie boards also made their way onto the scene.
Small countertop appliances were all the rage. Even though some of us already had these gadgets, they had probably been collecting dust in the graveyard of household items: the basement or the garage. Air fryers were used for practically everything, including fries, ravioli, chicken wings, chocolate chip cookies, hard-boiled eggs, samosas, and seven-course meals. Air fryers did it all. Did I succumb to the glossy ads on Instagram and end up buying an air fryer? I sure did! How else was I going to make chips out of every type of produce I could find?
Multi-cookers such as the Instant Pot® and its cousins have been key in making stews, tenderizing meats and vegetables, and even baking cheesecakes in a short amount of time. Blending was also big in 2020. Portable, battery-operated smoothie blenders were available in every color and size. Not only could we blend at home but also while we worked and jogged. Ismail posts Sunnah-inspired recipes on her Instagram page, aptly named @zainab_fitforAllah. Her smoothies contain Zamzam water and sometimes ajwa dates. However, we didn’t just want smoothies in glasses; we also wanted to enjoy them in bowls. According to Ismail, the difference is that “[s]moothie bowls have the consistency of ice cream, with less liquid. It’s a relaxed, indulgent version [of a traditional smoothie].”
To find recipes and food trends on social media, you can ask any thirteen-year-old to help you, or you can type in the hashtag (or pound sign) and the name of the item you are searching for. Be sure to look up Halal Consumer Magazine recipes on Facebook and Twitter. Not only has social media given many home chefs the opportunity to experience food trends, it has also given them a chance to showcase their talent. Who knows? Maybe you can be the next food trendsetter!
Husna T. Ghani has an MBA, an MSEd, and degrees in biology and chemistry. She has taught microbiology, as well as several laboratory sciences, and is currently a strategy consultant in the spheres of healthcare and communications. When she isn’t doing her day job, she focuses on dessert-making and saving the world, one pastry at a time.