We’ve made lists and talked trends of what 2010 will look like, but what about a look at the decade we’re getting ready to close? It’s been an interesting 10!
We’ve gone from being super flush to barely scraping by. Restaurants that once announced no reservations with the egregious term “fully committed” are now more than eager to assist with alternate dates and suggested times. Wine lists got a big workout in the middle of the decade as many top labels, aka big prices, were happily consumed. Consumers were making money; restaurants were thriving, and then BOOM. Life as we know it changed.
This was also the decade that:
–The farmer became a major player in dining out and shopping at markets. We threw the words “locavore,” food miles,” “farm fresh,” and “CSA” around as important, everyday expressions. They became part of the food vocabulary; they became used and overused.
–The term “foodie” became the preferred nomenclature for someone who was interested in all food talk all the time. It became as overused and redundant as locavore.
–The chef became a rock star. We became familiar with them and knew them by their 1st names like Tom, Mario, and Bobby. Sure Bravo’s ”Top Chef “and the proliferation of shows on The Food Network did not hurt the trend, but chefs started to spread their wings and strut the full peacock walk of master authoritarian. Guests liked dining at chef’s tables, taking cooking lessons from chefs, and just chatting away with the guy, or occasional gal, walking the room and beaming with the guests.
–Restaurant rents forced many old standbys to give it up and new restaurants opened out of food carts and food trucks. What was once a phenomena limited in its universality spawned concepts throughout the country for food on the go.
–As for foods, this was the cupcake, frozen yogurt, and burger decade.
–We devoured cookbooks and brought Julia Child back into our homes about the same time as we started stockpiling old issues of Gourmet Magazine which didn’t finish the decade as a magazine but added a hefty weight to the cookbook aisles with its latest 1,000 recipe tome.
-Grocers were no longer hiding behind a few private labels but rushing to show us they could compete with well-known national brands and wow us with better pricing from their much-improved house brands.
–Grocers were fighting over terms to indicate how low their prices had gone. We had deals and super deals, coupons that were doubled and eventually tripled, and benefited from a much improved, warmer, hospitable shopping environment.
–Wine merchants took consumers from Pauillac to Mendoza. We started drinking our cellars and started paying attention to the many good buys under $10 and under $20. The fancy wine world shifted continents and diners and shoppers were paying attention to smart buys from countries that seldom made wine magazine discussion groups years ago. Wine bars became commonplace.
–Coffee became an even bigger buzz than that from its mere caffeine potential. Neighborhood shops faced stiff competition from national players that proliferated multiple corners in major cities. We learned terms like grande and venti and started to request our own specialty lattes. Price was no object; it was a treat, and then…boom. We started to favor a tall fresh-brewed.
It was a decade that stamped its mark in the food world as food became elevated into more than just a meal.
Now we are older and wiser and ready to return to the basics that many say will signify the year ahead.
Time to reflect and watch.