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Bang on trend

  • Food
  • 18.01.24
Words Waitrose 18/01/24


We’ll always have a soft spot for Tex-Mex, but a new generation of chefs and food writers are putting regional, seasonal Mexican cuisine in the spotlight. Mexican-born chef Santiago Lastra’s fine-dining restaurant Kol in London recently broke into The World’s 50 Best list, while newly released Cocina Mexicana by Adriana Cavita and Rosa Cienfuegos’s CDMX: The Food of Mexico City take readers on a journey around the country’s culinary landscape.


Generative AI systems (machines that ‘think’ in a human-like way to create something new) are everywhere – hitting the headlines by turning out realistic images, music and even jokes. Food is the next big AI frontier, from recipe generators (just type in the contents of your fridge and AI will do the rest) to fighting food waste: US trials of two AI systems that help grocery stores match their ordering with customer demand saw food waste fall by an average of 14.8%.


From chilli-spiked hot honey to truffle mayo, luxe condiments are the new affordable indulgence. Flavoured mayo and anything hot and spicy are two of the fastest-growing sectors, says Waitrose Partner and sauce buyer Adrian Gash.


Coffee culture is finally heading away from being disposable: according to market researcher Mintel’s The Future of Coffee 2023 report, ‘eco offerings’ are moving front and centre. And with 29% of us now having a coffee pod machine at home, the range of sustainable capsules is growing. New compostable options that can go either on a compost heap or in your food-waste bin include Waitrose Espresso Coffee Capsules. It’s also worth checking the packaging to see what the capsules themselves are made from: pods that are pure aluminium, like Little’s Rich Hazelnut Capsules (£4/10), can go straight into your household recycling.


Thanks in part to ZOE (a personalised food and nutrition service focused on gut health co-created by Professor Tim Spector), the microbiome is this year’s hottest health trend. Treating yourself to unpasteurised fermented food and drink, which contains natural probiotics, is an easy way to boost your gut microbiome.


Great-value and store-cupboard-friendly, pulses are finally taking their place in the culinary spotlight. Take British company Bold Bean Co – in just two years, this small start-up has won 63.7K followers on Instagram and 16.4K on TikTok, selling 650% more products last year than the year before. Beans are also making waves on fashionable restaurant menus.


Social media can’t get enough of dressed-up croissants, whether they’re flattened and pan-fried before being layered with fruit and cream to form a cheat’s millefeuille, or stuffed with mozzarella and toasted to molten perfection. Find some of the fanciest at London’s Le Deli Robuchon (robuchonlondon.co.uk) – cube-shaped, chocolate-dipped and custard-filled, they’re worth queueing up for.


The store-cupboard staple has had a makeover: walk into a cool small-plates restaurant and you stand a good chance of spotting retro-chic tins of anchovies, sardines and mackerel on the menu, generally served with sourdough. As well as being a great value, tinned oily fish is a nutritional powerhouse – it’s packed with omega-3 and a good source of vitamin D. Make like a chef and make Ortiz White Tuna in Olive Oil the focus of a salad.


There’s increasing awareness that healthy soil encourages resilience against drought and extreme weather events linked to climate change. Also referred to as ‘nature-friendly farming’, this approach has no legal definition but is held to be a set of food-producing practices that leave the soil in a better state than it was to begin with. These include minimising soil disturbance and leaving the important microorganisms that live in the soil undisturbed. The team at Waitrose’s Leckford Estate farm has been measuring soil carbon for more than 20 years, and is now taking further measures – such as reducing tractor movement by 30% to minimise soil compaction.


Forget mayo-soggy buffet blights – pasta salad 2.0 is big, bold and ready to burst onto the culinary scene in 2024. Expect to see it on a table near you come summer, but in the meantime, Rome-based food writer Rachel Roddy likes hers room-temperature with tuna, cannellini beans, tomatoes and capers and top-quality olive oil, while Neil Campbell, head chef at Ottolenghi restaurant Rovi, recommends warm orzo tossed with roasted onions, squash, Caerphilly and kale pesto. “The pasta is really just a carbohydrate boat for carrying other delicious ingredients,” advises Neil. Want in? Chef Tom Jackson has a whole book, Cool Pasta: Reinventing the Pasta Salad (published 28 March).


Recent research suggests up to 25% of apples, 20% of onions and 13% of carrots are still being discarded long before they reach the shelves because of small cosmetic imperfections.


A key element of Korean cooking, gochujang is a red chilli paste made with glutinous rice and soya beans – similar to miso, but spicy. Add Cooks’ Ingredients Gochujang Chilli Paste to your stir fry or mix with mayo for a dip for crispy fried chicken. It can even be added to sweet treats – gochujang caramel cookies are all the rage across the pond.

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