The North American consumer looks constantly for new tastes, follows trends, and as quickly moves on to a new trend.
Not so long ago, onion soup, gazpacho or other cold soups, tilapia, calamari, foams, catfish, cupcakes, and energy drinks were popular. Now, locally produced food, sustainability, nutrition, back-to-basics ideas, artisan cheeses, mini desserts, and quinoa and other grains of antiquity are trendy.
The next wave could be red rice, organic alcoholic beverages, Peruvian cuisine, and snout-to-tail use of slaughtered animals, cooking and/or flavouring with tea, cocktails with home made bitters, and ethnic desserts.
Interestingly, some favourites remain like chocolate- and classical desserts, pies, tuna, air-aged meat, soft drinks, BBQ foods and marinade/rubs.
Why do people look for new tastes all the time? There are several reasons – peer pressure, marketing, up-bringing, the food manufacturing industry constantly exhorting ideas about taste, and advertising.
One of the largest food processors in the U S A markets bottles dressings at exorbitant prices, and people buy it because it is advertised constantly.
Then there is the question of grated parmesan in a tube which of course has absolutely no taste relation to the original invented, and still produced in Parma, Italy.
Millions naively believe that Parmesan is the “real thing” because they have never experiences Parmigiano reggiano, the hard cheese that is produced according to age-old traditions and controlled by official agencies.
Converted rice is another product that is widely used across the continent, except that it has no particular taste but is sturdy and cannot be cooked to “mush”. If people knew about basmati rice and experienced properly cooked fragrant, delicious, and delicate rice, they would never go back to cooking “converted rice”.
Food trends basically take advantage of the “food ignorance” of people.
Chicken is the most popular protein consumed in North America, yet it is essentially “manufactured” in huge “plants” and millions believe this type of chicken to be the authentic, as they have never eaten a “free range” chicken that has been expertly cooked.
The last commercial success I want to mention is for the reader contemplate the Starbucks phenomenon. 30 years ago, most North Americans believed processed (freeze dried) coffee to they needed to add water is true coffee. Then a smart businessman discovered that millions could be made by offering properly brewed coffee emphasising the place of origin, and now the company owns and operates thousands of stores across North America and in many other countries all over the world.
Yet a very popular North American supplier still sells millions of cups daily along with a few baked goods (muffins, cookies, etc) because many of its stores are conveniently located on the grounds of gas stations and offer convenient drive-through service.
Do and/or should people value convenience more than taste?
I will this question open for people to contemplate.