smak restuarant feature blog

8 food trends you’ll see in 2018 - and how to include them in your kitchen

Monday, February 5th 2018

It’s the beginning of a new year and I feel it’s customary to hop on the food trend bandwagon (or in this case baconwagon?) to add what I feel are the top 8 food trends that we will see this year. Who knows, some might even make their way onto the smak menu!

Number 1: Gut-friendly, medicinal food

Katia says that when she was growing up and would go to her grandparents for Sunday lunch, there’d always be a side dish of sauerkraut. Sometimes there would even be the choice between purple or white. What did her grandparents know that we didn’t? A lot probably.

Fermented, pickled and preserved food has been around for Centuries but the true benefits of eating food like this are now only becoming more widely recognised as a healthy option. It’s no wonder that foods like tempeh, miso, kefir, and sauerkraut are growing in popularity. If you haven’t tried them, they’re all delicious. Plus, they flood your gut with live microorganisms that scare off unhealthy bacteria, making way for better absorption of minerals and an improvement of overall health.

So what can you do at home to enjoy the benefits of these gut-friendly foods? Luckily, they’re quite easy to incorporate. Kimchi will make wraps and sandwiches extra special and sauerkraut is the perfect accompaniment to any salty meat dish, think Kassler chops. Miso can be used to flavour soups and stews or mixed with tahini, grated ginger and a dash of sweet wine to make a delicious sauce.

Number 2: Plant-based eating

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would have noticed the massive rise in the demand for vegan-friendly / plant-based friendly retail and restaurant items. I think this is especially true in Cape Town, we’re literally witnessing the explosion! Personally, I love how plant-based eating is becoming more popular. Yes, it’s healthier for you and does less harm to the environment and animals but as a chef (or home cook) it also forces you to think a little out the box when creating a meal. Forget steak and two side veg. The rise of plant-based protein sources is also something to keep your eye on. It’s only a matter of time before Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods land in SA.

With a little creativity, most meat items can be easily substituted. At smak, Katia makes herself ‘chickpea-mayo’ sandwiches. She simply dry roasts chickpeas with salt, pepper, and chili flakes, squashes them a little when crispy and mixes with our housemade vegan mayo (see number 6 below). Truth be told, it tastes almost identical to the chicken mayo sandwiches I make for staff lunch.

Number 3: Sustainable, hyper-local food

This trend still has a lot of work to do here in SA but I’ve noticed it growing in small increments and love the idea of knowing exactly where your food comes from and who grew it for you. At smak, all our pork comes from Oak Valley in Elgin and our olive oil from Morgenster wine farm. We are always looking for suppliers that source food from local farmers and producers.

This weekend I was at the Oranjezicht Farmers Market and all of a sudden the owner started speaking through the loudspeaker, announcing that their Bulgarian pink tomatoes had just arrived from the farm and were coming through the crowds. She walked alongside the trolley that housed crates of beautiful red and yellow tomatoes while explaining who the farmer was and what made these tomatoes so special. At the same time, the men pushing the trolley were holding up tomatoes to show the crowds They all had massive smiles on their faces and I couldn’t help but smile back. The best part, I got home with two massive brown bags of these tomatoes. I thought I’d tasted a real tomato before trying these, turns out I hadn’t even come close. Enjoy with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, salt, and black pepper. They need little else.

Number 4: Ethnic flavours and spices

The craze around Middle Eastern food might have something to do with the rise of veganism but regardless, there really is something special about hummus, pita, and falafels. These have been around for a while though, it’s what’s new in people’s minds that has me excited. Israeli, Persian, Syrian and Lebanese flavours are starting to pop up all over the place. Again, at Oranjezicht Farmers Market, I met this wonderful Lebanese lady who makes a range of dips like hummus, labneh, baba ganoush, tzatziki, to name a few. You can tell they’re fresh and made with love, your tongue comes alive when you take a bite of any of them. They can also be found at the Spar in Cape Quarter!

At home, an easy mid-week dinner would be a bunch of these dips with roasted veg and pita bread. Use the veg as dip carriers to get the amazing Lebanese flavours directly into your mouth, as fast as possible.

Number 5: From root-to-tip

We’ve all done it. When you buy a carrot you chop off the top and throw it away. Fennel bulbs are used but the leaves discarded. Butternut skin is sliced off and quickly tossed in the bin. It’s time we start realising the potential in all these extra bits and using them in our own kitchens.

When I roast butternut, I either leave the skin on (it becomes chewy and sweet) or I deep fry in a little oil and drizzle with salt to snack on while the rest of dinner is cooking. You should also try making a pesto with carrot and fennel tops, different to a basil pesto but super good too.

Number 6: Housemade condiments

There are so many hidden ingredients in all our food (especially condiments), and many of them are labeled in a way only scientists can understand. Perhaps the solution is to make your own? It’s not difficult to make things like tomato sauce, mayonnaise or chutney at home. At smak, we’re thinking of making normal and vegan mayo to sell in our shop. What do you think?
I will blog again soon with recipes on how to make condiments at home, stay tuned.

Number 7: Intermittent Fasting

This isn’t really a ‘food’ trend but when you’re abstaining from eating for a certain period of time, I suppose it’s food related. A couple of my friends have tried and succeeded with intermittent fasting and while I don’t have the scientific knowledge or experience to recommend it to anyone, it does somehow make sense to me. If we consider how wild animals eat, there are always periods of famine and feast with most living creatures. Giving your body a break from digesting for a couple of hours doesn’t seem like a bad idea. If all the blood and resources normally go to the gut when you eat, maybe when you don’t eat then the blood and resources have the capacity and time to go elsewhere and fulfill other roles.

Number 8: Ditch the plastic

Hand-in-hand with number 3 above is a movement towards, literally, making less mess. Locally, we’ve seen restaurants refuse to serve drinks with straws and others only give takeaway bags with aluminum and paper tops. If I think of all the plastic we all throw away every day without even thinking about it or realising it, I start to get anxious. When did we become so dependant on this product? I know the world is realising that we need to make changes if we’re to survive and I try at each and every moment to do my best.

You can too, even in small ways. Bring bags to the shops, buy loose fruit and veg when possible, recycle whatever plastic you do have at home. It’s up to us.

At smak, we’re trying to completely eliminate the use of plastic. Our starting point is to stop ordering plastic straws, we now only serve paper straws with our drinks. That’s step one, watch this space as we aim to become kinder to our planet.

If you have any food trends you think should be added to this list, I’d love to hear them! Perhaps they might make their way somehow to the smak menu.

Dig in,

Devin Hogan

Co-founder and chef at smak delicatessen and restaurant



Cover photo Tomasz Bazylinski on Unsplash

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