Adventures in a culinary landscape
Stuck in a cooking rut? Time to reinvigorate what we cook ? to think outside the (processed food) box. A handful of ants, some seaweed and a stem cell beefburger created in a lab, followed by a spider souffle. Gross? Perhaps. But ”fake” meat will leave our consciences clear and create a better carbon footprint. Foodstuff shortages will be a reality – for example, we now eat so much cocoa that The Financial Times predicts there may be a deficit by 2020. The future will be all about imaginative alternatives – driven by the consumer.
Inspect a gadget
Last year a DreamLab competition awarded students from Dalian Nationalities University in China first prize for their innovative vision of an eco-kitchen – plants grown inside on the walls of any kitchen, waste recycled to run electricity and robots advising families about healthy eating. But perhaps the gadgets we will soon be using may be more along the lines of a sous vide machine – to make fancy vacuum-packed ”boil in the bag” dishes. Funky technology that delivers great taste.
Falling in love – with food – again
Michael Pollan, the political food writer, has talked about our ”broken food system” – families not eating together and too many people grabbing food on the go. The growth of things like supper clubs and pop-up restaurants is all evidence that home cooking and a major move to snub fast food corporations, is making people fall in love with food, with their kitchens again. It’s not a feminist issue. As Yoko Ono once said: ”Women of the 60’s made pickle, too, you know. We were feminists, but we weren’t dumb.”
Slow-cooking like it’s 1899
Ah the ping-tastic microwave – it all seemed so space age. Hydrating noodles was quick and naughty. But now we worry how much salt and fat we ingest. Slow food is the antidote and what could be slower than making an earth oven and cooking food in a hole in the ground, caveman-style? Or pickling, preserving food? Books like William Reubel’s The Magic of Fire celebrates hearth cooking. Will cooking of the future be part retro – looking into the flames and dreaming while we wait for something delicious? Perhaps.
Our gravitation to the cities will always have an effect on how we cook and also how we effectively dispose of our food waste. The United Nations has calculated that worldwide, 74% of us will be urban dwellers by 2050. In the fifties, the figure was only 29%. As we squeeze more people into smaller spaces and landfill reaches breaking point, using innovative composting systems like anaerobic bokashi bins, which break down waste in weeks, will be desirable.
Cooking will soon be a curious mix – on one hand we crave the gadgets, on the other hand we want simplicity, nostalgia and the comfort of good food. But ultimately, the cooks will decide.