To define the future of food, sometimes we need to look to the past. Current trends towards farm-to-table and mindful eating are nothing new. In fact, these “trends” are the basic tenets of authentic, old world cuisines that have been served for centuries in the regions surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.
You've probably already enjoyed Middle Eastern cuisine at one point or another (like that hummus and falafel pita from the food truck you can't get enough of). But what's beyond these ubiquitous Middle Eastern foods? Now's the perfect time to learn more: Middle Eastern cuisine was named one of the top food trends for 2018 by Whole Foods. (BTW, the Middle Eastern diet could be the new Mediterranean diet.) Luckily, you probably already have a few commonly used ingredients or spices in your kitchen right now, and you can easily grab the others at a specialty supermarket or even at your local grocery. Follow the story to see a few of the delicious Middle Eastern food you should know about.
Middle Eastern flavors and ingredients are becoming more familiar — and more desirable — to consumers, Mintel said. Sixty-six per cent of U.S. consumers are interested in Middle Eastern foods at restaurants, and growth of Middle Eastern cuisine on U.S. restaurant menus grew 32% between 2015 and 2017.
AMERICANS ARE WAKING UP TO THE DEEP NUANCES OF THIS AROMATIC, WHOLESOME, VEGETABLE-HEAVY FOOD, WHOSE ORIGINS LIE WITH THE START OF CIVILIZATION. A group of countries spanning from North Africa to Asia, the Middle East is at the crossroads of rich cultures, fallen empires, and centuries of migration. It encompasses wide-ranging geographies, from vast, empty deserts to lush countrysides, long coastlines, and rocky mountains.
Specialty Food Association created a Hall of Fame for the Specialty Food Industry in 2015 and has been inducting industry leaders ever since. At the upcoming 2018 Summer Fancy Food Show, eight additional inductees will join the Hall of Fame. These individuals pioneered and shepherded change in the industry. They created product categories, launched companies, provided livelihood to employees and have built the specialty food industry into the food leader that it is today.
As more restaurants and chefs rally around these bright, simple, and wholesome cuisines, the crossovers with Israeli, Greek, and Middle Eastern influences shine through on modern menus. Here are a few ingredients trending at the moment.
Tahini is a potent paste made from toasted sesame seeds; it’s similar in texture to natural peanut butter. Apart from being a core ingredient in hummus, tahini is often thinned with water or lemon juice and drizzled over falafel, kebabs, pilaf, and roasted or raw vegetables in Middle Eastern recipes. Sesame seeds are generally the sole ingredient—so how different could competing tahinis be? To find out, we tasted seven products, priced from $6.44 to $11.99 and sold in 15- to 16-ounce containers, plain and in hummus.