This country's freakishly knowledgeable obsession with food seemed to explode at the end of the century, right around the time Emeril turned cooking into entertainment. Nowadays it seems that when we're not actually eating, we're discussing the myriad ingredients available and the yummiest ways to fashion them into our next meal. But as with any aspect of culture, trends can change quickly, and it's best to stay on top of these things. Just think of how goony you'd feel if talk turned to how rock-star anchovies can be, but you were still a-twitter over the lowly sardine.
So let me help. You've got enough on your plate.
Food is always more appealing when there's other food inside it, but it's time to send the ubiquitous tortilla wrap packing. Crepes are where it's at now: Fluffier and less... um... wrappy, the crepe's versatility lends itself to each meal, savory or sweet, and the combination of fillings is endless. Keep a batch of batter on hand to stretch your leftovers, or spread 'em with Nutella and be totally European. And don't forget about Pittsford's Simply Crepes or its outpost at the downtown library if you really want to see what crepes can do.
In: Single origin
You likely know that single-malt scotch is considered better and, as a result, typically costs more than its blended kin. That vaguely Third-Reichian purity theory has now creeped into two more of our favorite vices, chocolate and coffee, some of which now come labeled with source plantations as well as varietal characteristics. So now Starbucks and Hershey's expect us to discern the subtleties between estates? Chocolate isn't supposed to be stressful.
Be honest: whenever a friend comes at your tiramisu with a fork, you secretly wish you could stab them. Sharing of course has its place, like with wealth, affection, and kidneys. But not with dessert. Cupcakes have been hot for a while now, and the comforting notion of your very own treat, with the proper frosting-to-cake ratio, means they're not going anywhere soon. Any bakery worth its salt offers a selection of cupcakes, and check out Goodness Cakes on University Avenue. They have mini cupcakes, perfect for those saints who want to grab a handful and share them with the mooches in their life
Sorry, but you're going to have to forego bald eagle and dumplings from now on, because we're finally, furiously working to reduce the effects our once-careless lifestyles had on the earth. Locavores try to consume products grown or made as close to their home as possible, saving on fossil fuels while being more in touch with their vittles. And sustainability is not so much a trend as it is good sense, where humans eat in a way that doesn't harm the environment and respects both farming practices and the quality of mammal life. But if you're hoping to continue your decadence, find some faux gras, made from chopped chicken liver, or the new vegetarian caviar that's derived from seaweed.
Out: Carb obsession
The United Nations is elbowing into the trends game now, too, declaring 2008 the International Year of the Potato. Now that the price of wheat has blown up, and rice is the new gold, it's time to take another look at the humble spud, a respectable source of energy and nutrients that the rest of the world has embraced but Americans fear because no one can figure out when to say when. While they eat to live, we live to eat. No wonder they hate us.
You don't want to part with your morning java, and all are welcome to try and pry the Americano from my cold, dead hand. But we've all heard about the benefits of the antioxidants found in tea, with so many varieties -- black, green, white, herbal, rooibos, etc. -- that it would take you a lifetime to sample them all. Don't know where to start? The mighty Pittsford Wegmans now features a zen-like tea bar in the middle of its bustle, and there's always the exquisite tea pharmacy at South Avenue's Open Face Eatery, which recently celebrated its fourth birthday.
Maybe you didn't hear while you were outside licking the sidewalk after your sixth disgusting Jäger bomb: the Green Fairy is back. The powers-that-be relaxed the century-old ban on the sale of absinthe last year, allowing imports -- and even a domestic distillation -- to take their rightful place on American liquor-store shelves. Turns out wormwood wasn't to blame for all the world's ills, and now the pearly-green liquid, redolent of anise, fennel, and other botanical notes, is waiting for its chance to f**k you up.
In: Quick meals
Out: Fast food
Taco Bell and Burger King are just too bad/good to completely abandon, but they're not quite as feasible since everyone's trying to watch wallets and waistlines simultaneously. You can duplicate the social aspect of going out with a supper club -- the snobbier way to say "potluck" -- or, if you're hell-bent on someone else cooking, the new Mise En Place at Gregory and South offers bistro-quality chow at takeout prices. Gastronomes pressed for time ought to look into a new concept called Make-and-Take Gourmet, with locations in Henrietta, Webster, and East Rochester, where they do all the shopping and chopping, and you assemble meals to bring home and cook yourself. Stick someone else with the dishes.