Around this time of year, lots of us bloggers like to write up lots of top ten lists, which self-perpetuate our importance, relevance and standing within the online community and not wanting to be outdone, I felt it was high time that I wrote a list too. You know, to show that I too, am a big knob in a sea of flaccidity. But with this list, there will be no comfortable, familiar, repetitive lines, no cliquey platitudes, no product placements and no mention of Roganic, which still sounds to me like a word that Scooby Doo would use. No, this list will be truly innovative and original. It will contain things that you haven't even heard of, ideas that you daren't even dream of, impossibilities that you really couldn't imagine were possible. For this is the Food Urchin Top Ten Food Trends, Happenings and Events for 2012 list. And if you thought that the likes of Morgaine Gaye had her fingers on the pulse, then think again. Because she ain't got nothing on me. So here goes:
1) Hay was the buzzword for chefs in 2011. Such was it's marvelous insulating qualities, the strawy, straw coloured straw stuff that grows in fields was a big hit in the kitchen for cooking things in straw. Hay made all the difference, wrapped around that pork shoulder, that leg of lamb, that calves liver. And it also made a lot of mess. But this year, the word across stainless steel countertops across the land is that a new material has been found, which is even better then straw. And it's called 'Rockwool'. Yes, you heard it hear first. Demand for this stone wool insulation material is set to go through the roof as chefs such as Nuno Mendes start to set the trend. Look out for his new Rockwool wrapped Goat's Head with Milk Poached Daikon and Camomile Starfish Goujons coming onto the menu at Viajante very soon. It will tear your mouth apart.
2) Government proposals to implement a 'minimum price' on alcohol sales in the UK will see a boom in home brewing but traditional beer and wine making will fall to the wayside as experimentation with vegetables and other foodstuffs come into dominance. Techniques are still a bit rough and ready at the moment but as certain people get to grips with the possibly illegal distilling of manky vegetable hooch into pure spirit, major breakthroughs will start to shine through, particularly at house parties. In turn, alternative speakeasies will begin to rise and appear around the capital, where 'Marrow Rum', 'Turnip Gin' and 'Pumpkin Whisky' will all become common parlance. And it will all be great fun and giggles with only the occasional bout of blindness or paralysis. Which is kind of ironic, given that the idea behind Chief Iggle Piggle David Cameron's latest, joyless, bogus campaign is to improve the nation's health. David, an Englishman will fight off a horde of rabid hyenas wearing nothing but his underpants to get to a beer, sod the cost. And therein lies the real problem. Yet another system of tax won't solve it, you twat.
3) Our working lives are getting busier, hours longer, lunch breaks shorter. It's no wonder that the temptation to gorge on junk in the 15 minutes behind our desks is so prevalent. So thank heavens for the likes of Sebastian Fortescue-Smythe who has come up with a fantastic new concept in healthy, organic, super fast food. And I for one can't wait for the roll out of his new chain of food bars called 'Masticate', where all dishes will be served up having gone through the first stage of digestion. In Sebastian's own words, "Yah, I first got the idea on my gap year travelling through Papa New Guinea, living with various tribes. The staple diet out there is taro root and the most incredible thing I witnessed out there, were the various Mothers of each tribe chewing these tubers and spitting them into bowls for their young offspring to eat. My God, I thought, there's an idea that will go down well in London." The first Masticate bar will open in early Jan, in Hoxton.
4) Whispers behind the tills at Waitrose is that Delia Smith will be launching a brave and bold venture for Valentine's Day, in the form of a new range of sexy, edible lingerie made from spun sugar. Which, apparently, is to be found by the jam and preserves section. Apparently, this is a last ditch attempt to lure Heston, who, judging by the adverts has been displaying a distinct lack of chemistry in the partnership so far, despite Delia's best efforts. In fact, apparently, this whole marketing campaign has been orchestrated and paid for by Delia, simply because she fancies the pants off the pseudo-bald, bespectacled, meat fruit genius. I don't know, I am only repeating what the cashier was telling me the other day. What I do know is that I will be Sky plus-ing the saucy advert when it is aired on ITV1 at 9pm (after the watershed) on Feb 1st. Because, perversely, I fancy the pants off Delia. And I really am bald.
5) As street food continues to grow and expand, the hunt for the next frugal, portable, takeaway dish to be elevated inexplicably to a superlative state is on. We've had burgers, hot dogs, pulled pork, ribs, falafel, jerk chicken, burritos, bratwurtz, sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, pulled pork, ribs, cupcakes, falafel, burgers and sandwiches, all ranted and raved about in equal wonder and derision but I reckon that nows the time for the humble Frikadellen to catch some of that limelight. If you shop at Lidl or Aldi, then you are probably already aware of the qualities of this lumpy, ugly, salty, shitty, horse meat patty but sooner or later, someone, somewhere will pitch up with a trolley in a car park and start shifting these by the bucket load. People will start to queue for hours to get a bite, rambling on about about how good these Frikadellen are. "Just as good as the stuff you get in Copenhagen." And before you know it, the first Frikadellen pop up will open some crack den in Westborne Park before moving onto a permanent fixture in the West End. Mark my words.
6) Thankfully, for the first time in 10 years, deaths at home because of accidents in the kitchen will finally decrease in 2012 due to this recent and successful campaign. Unfortunately, catering outside, in gardens, in the open air will continue to take the lives, especially in the summer. And this really is a worrying trend. By the way, I am not talking about deaths relating to throwing petrol on the barbecue and food poisoning due to undercooked sausages here. No, something far more sinister is afoot. And it's all down to some numpty showing men, grown but essentially immature men, how to deep fry whole turkeys. My wife has actually banned me from watching this video but I keep getting up in the night, quiet and secretive, to pad down the stairs, to flick open the laptop, to click and stare in awe. I know of many other brethren who are also hooked on this instructional video, which is dangerous yet beautiful, like an open flame. like poor old Nicholas Cage in Knowing, it's a terrible thing to thing to acknowledge that one of us, or all of us, will surely die.
7) Food, food design and food performance art will continue to make great strides after the trail blazing trailing trails made by the likes of Bompas and Parr and Blanch and Shock in recent years. But these guys will seem a little bit average, tame, boring and vanilla in comparison to the more avant garde food artists that are emerging onto the scene. Amongst a plethora of practitioners who have recently formed and exhibited their culinary inspired work, under the umbrella of 'Zeitgeist Banana', is a young man from Berlin called Claus Lowenbrau. Coming to the Festival Hall in June, in time for the Golden Jubilee, Claus is planning his most controversial piece yet. Entitled 'Essen Sie Scheiße und sterben Sie', Claus hopes to construct a large pair of buttocks, made from 2 tons of rendered pig fat and sit atop the structure so that he can throw rotten fruit at the audience, whilst making defamatory remarks about vegans. Book your tickets now, it should be an interesting night.
8) The marriage of television and food will enter the doldrums in 2012 simply because of overexposure, tedium, half-cocked ideas and the continued martyrdom of the celebrity chef. The public have carried on for long enough, slouching listlessly in their baggy sofas, watching the same old shit, the same old bouncy seasonal feature, the same old campaign to save squirrel, the same old competitive yet torpid runaround, the same old "Boy, I would love to stick my dick in that pudding." We've had enough, we are unconvinced, or simply put, we still can't be bothered because our ovens are still sparkling clean. BUT HAVE NO FEAR! For I have devised a brand new cooking show format, loosely based on The Running Man where members of the public and television chef's fight to the death in a gladiatorial arena, using nothing but silicone spatulas, eggs and spam. OK, I have yet to get it commissioned so things might not happen this year but I do have Antony Worrall Thompson on board as a prospective warrior called 'The Ginger Gnome'. Together, we shall get the nation cooking proper in no time.
9) Despite number 8) sort of besmirching that this country doesn't really have a proper food cultcha to speak of as yet, I do predict a rise in food festivals throughout the country and as a result, can picture seemingly ordinary towns blossom into new frontiers of taste and flavour, where the artisan can flourish and rise. Of course, already firmly ensconced on the UK food map are places such as Ludlow, Abergavenny and Aldeburgh but sure enough I can forsee Kettering, Skegness and Romford forming an integeral part of the burgeoning infrastructure. At present, I am personally involved in putting Romford firmly out there as a food tourist destination because I believe we have a lot to offer. We certainly have the wealth of the Essex countryside and it's produce on our doorstep. Which is why I am pleased to formally announce that Romford will have it's very first and proper food festival in July. And it will be called - "Alex James' Cheesy Essex Romp" - he'll sign up for anything these days.
10) The very last trend, prediction, event, hoo-ha that I would like to inflict on you (and if you have made it this far, well done) is one of grave importance. So please, listen carefully.
I am giving up blogging..
Ha ha, I am only kidding folks, I am far too fond of writing this inane obllocks and getting drunk whilst doing so. Even if it's inconsistent, slack at times and even if you don't care for it ; P.
But what I really would like to announce is Happy New Year to everyone, let's hope it's a good one, without any fear.