The Fork

The Fork: Trendwatch 2024

Here’s what’s about to happen according to market research firm Datassential

In years past and right around the start of the new year, we’ve been known to rattle off our own list(s) of food trend predictions. We’ve culled this data from a wildly unscientific list of parameters including tenets such as “we read about it,” “someone told us” and “don’t you just, like, think that’ll probably happen?”

This year, though, we wanted to present our readers with something a little more real, so we went looking for the real deal, which in this case comes in the form of information from Chicago-based market research firm Datassential. Here’s what they think is what’s up based on a recent report:

Money, money, money, money—moooonnnnnnaaaaaaaay

Prices, value, discounts and dollars are everything this year, perhaps even more so than in years past. We’re all feeling the burn at grocery stores and restaurants. Like, we had a hankering for a Big Mac (don’t yell at us, we were very high at the time) right up until we discovered that McDonald’s prices are just about on par with those of real food restaurants. Instead of eating anything, though, we just cried in the car.

More consumers will wanna drink more water this year

That’s just the kind of thing that probably always happens. Like, are we hungry, or do we just need a glass of water? According to Datassential, though, 68% of those who took part in their research are callin’ quaffin’ a bigger priority this year. Us, too. We’re drinking water right now and hat’s wy we now have to del wth ths brokn eybord.

Franken-meat

Datassential says 17% of consumers think they would try lab-grown meat this year. We feel like it’s weird, but then our mom was like, “Weirder than raising cows and pigs and chickens to kill and eat?” So we were like, “OK, yeah, existence is a prison and we didn’t ask to be born.”

Euro-Hünger

Due to a rise in TikTok spurred food trends, French food will reenter the picture in a big way. Not that it ever went anywhere, just that American eaters were a little more about Mexican food and Asian foods and Asian fusion foods and so on. Now that we can travel to Europe again, (well, not us, but rich people), people will likely reignite their love affairs with pasta and croissants or pasta-filled croissants.

Things With Names (Right Now)

Flavor-wise, Datassential believes that we’re currently seeing a rise in folks using ingredients like tahini and yuzu. We’re seeing mochi in a way that makes us exclaim, “Woah, that’s a lot of mochi, baby!” Harissa (a chili paste) is making sriracha feel like a distant memory; black garlic is all up in your dishes; we’re all eating focaccia like it’s going out of style (we suggest Baked & Brew’s or the Chocolate Maven’s) and your ponzu bottle just beat the shit out of your soy sauce bottle so badly that the latter packed up its bindle and hit the bricks. Why do we know what a bindle is? We just do. Deal with it.

Things With Names (Later On)

Scamorza cheese is gonna replace burrata, which itself replaced mozzarella somehow (though we still love mozz). Toasted rice powder...apparently exists and we’re all gonna like it. Gooseberry will have you feeling goosed up and goosing your loved ones (with their consent, of course) and the shiso herb will enter your lexicon in a way wherein you go a-looking for it to toss into your Asian-inspired dishes. We’d remind Datassential that Asia is not a monolith and that the foods of different lands do not all taste the same. Why, just look at Santa Fe’s Alkeme and its fun fusion choices (and its recent James Beard Award semifinalist nod). 2024 is also gonna be all about Mexican beers, which feels like a recurrence, as our 1998, 2009 and 2012 were also all about Mexican beers.

Delivery Schmelivery

We all know that the pandemic brought about a major rise to food delivery services, but with inflation and the sadsies and the exorbitant prices of those things, apps and such will need to get it together to make it work for us. There once was a time when ordering food made folks feel like American heroes. That time has passed and more people are ditching their orders once they see the final price. What sorts of offers might DoorDash or Uber Eats give us? Who knows, but we still love that time Vinaigrette owner Erin Wade wrote an open letter to those Grubhub clowns and gave ‘em the old what-for. Also, don’t call food “eats.” It makes our skin crawl. Like, we’re sick having just used it to admonish its usage.

And All the Rest

Of course, humans are fickle and strange, so there’s no telling if any of this stuff is real. Is life even real? Oh, god, society could have been anything but there are people out there compiling reports like, “...and the pepper you might eat this year is slightly different than that other pepper you’re currently eating.” Rent is barely affordable. We saw a dead bird in the road earlier. All civilizations eventually crumble. It’s possible we could die one day. Beer mostly comes with weird burps now if you’re lucky; bloat if you’re less lucky; barfs if you try to do it like you did when you were 20. What is food? Illustrator Edward Gorey once said “it’s a small town in New Hampshire,” and while we couldn’t find it on any map, his saying that makes every bit as much sense as existence, food newsletters, life, the universe, everything—which is to say none. Cosmic farce, bruh. That’s what it is.

Before We Forget

We predict pastry chefs will have to get more and more creative in 2024. Chocolate cake? C’mon, now! So that could be fun.

Please don’t hate us because we’re trendy.

Also

-Did you know that on the very day you receive this Fork, SFR will have kicked off the nominations process for Best of Santa Fe 2024. If you’re not familiar, it’s our biggest issue of the year—and one with a hefty food presence—wherein readers vote for their favorite things around town. You can start nominating by clicking on this link right here that is highlighted and clickable. We’ll do the nominations round and then there will be a final voting round later on. So we don’t want to hear about how nobody told you, because we’re telling you.

-Dixon, New Mexico author and El Bosque Garlic Farm proprietor Stanley Crawford died earlier this week at 86. All told, we hear, Crawford wrote 11 books and taught everyone a lot about garlic. Rest in power, bud.

-We just mentioned how we loved the focaccia at the Chocolate Maven, and now we’re double-pumped because we’ve learned about some new-ish items on the menu that we really would like to try. We’re talking about the new red chile chocolate pecan pie, which has reportedly since become a bestseller, plus the the kimchi burger and peanut butter burger. We know that peanut butter burgers sounds weird, but we’ve heard they’re excellent.

-We hear the Super Bowl is coming up on Feb. 11, and though we don’t care about sports even a little bit at all, we do care about snacks and trends. And that is precisely why we’re down with this piece from Food Navigator USA-dot-com that breaks down what we might see this year. As for who is playing? We are only aware of the Kansas City Chiefs, whose activities have long bummed out Indigenous activists. In the time it took us to write that sentence, someone told us the San Francisco 49ers are also playing. We did not care.

-It’s really more of an Albuquerque thing than a Santa Fe thing, but there’s a new Whole Foods opening at 2100 Carlisle Boulevard NE down there in ABQ. Just know that, we guess. Word is that you can start shopping there as of Feb. 22.

-Oh, also, here’s another reminder that Santa Fe Restaurant Week is still barreling toward us with dates from Feb. 19-29. Get all the info, including participating restaurants, by clicking right here. We might remind you again, but at a certain point it’s on you.

-Everybody loves legendary restaurant server Ernie Bob Siebert, but you should know that his skillz (onez which pay the billz) extend beyond restaurant work—y’know, kind of like every single restaurant worker everywhere? Anyway, turns out Siebert and his wife kicked off a super-cool biz idea during the height of the pandemic, and everyone needs to know it exists. We’re talkin’ about Imaginary Brewpubs, a line of T-shirts emblazoned with totally fictitious craft brewery designs/beer names/slogans. For example, there’s the La Llorona Bittersweet Ale tee from City Different Brewing (which again, does not exist), which bears the slogan “Drown your sorrows, not your children.” There’s this other one we liked for Drinking Sphinx Brewhouse in Cairo, New York (which also doesn’t exist), the slogan for which reads, “What uses only 1 leg all day long?” The tees look like totally legitimate brands, too, and feature names of actual towns. We think this is hilarious, and we think you should check it out immediately at this link.

¡SHOUT-OUT TO READER RON WHOSE LAST INITIAL WE DO NOT KNOW!

In last week’s Fork we described a scene wherein possums and skunks gathered around an old stump to play folk music. We also asked our readers to make this image a reality. Reader Ron delivered big time. And though, Ron says, he used AI to get it going, we don’t care in this instance because his efforts are everything. Now, Ron, we emailed you requesting an address, so if you didn’t get that, could you drop us another line with that info? Thanks.

Here’s that glorious image:

Sometimes Fork sub The Knoife pointed out that we probably had this iconic music performance on our mind when we thought about possum/skunk bands.

More Tidbits

-Newspaper USA Today has thoughts about tipping culture in America, and much of those thoughts seem to continually circle back to how Americans are tired of tipping. Our take? Tough shit. Setting aside the racist history of the practice (which we say not to minimize it but to just briefly remind y’all), tipping is, sadly, part of the culture in which we live. Restaurant workers, and we include counter workers in there, are not paid well enough for folks to act like their tipping fatigue or flat-out refusal are somehow changing anything. And it’s complicated. Some years ago in Santa Fe, for example, there was a proposed bill that would require restaurants to pay their employees properly. Servers didn’t want that, however, because they can often make way more money through tips than an hourly wage. Point is, there’s no good solution, but if you can’t kick a few bucks toward your fellow human, then make your own food at home.

-We love Eater-dot-com as many readers likely know, so believe us when we say that if they think 2024 is the year of the dinner party, we’re on board. In brief, those Eater champs say we’re all gonna get back to entertaining more often this year, but if’n we need help doing that, help is available. Now call some friends and eat together or something.

-Chuck E. Cheese (a company for kids and pizza and ball pits that was founded, weirdly, by Atari founder Nolan Bushnell) will release a cookbook, and that’s just, like, kind of weird, man. But kind of cool? Look, say what you want, but some of us remember playing Packrat at one of them birthday parties from when we were whatever age we were when that happened, and even though our mom said the pizza was “basically made of cardboard,” it still felt like a special treat. May we also remind you that most of you never once released a cookbook, so get back!

A Totally Scientific Breakdown of The Fork’s Correspondence

In this week’s print edition of SFR, you’ll have to make do without any restaurant reviews. Live your lives!

Number of Letters Received

27

*To those of you who said nice things, we love you.

Most Helpful Tip of the Week (a barely edited letter from a reader)

“You’re tasteless.”

*We bet we taste like chicken.

Actually Helpful Tip(s)

“Restaurants you have missed: Sweet Santa Fe (in Santa Fe Fashion Outlets mall). Winner of 41 Scovie awards from the Fiery Food Show since 2020 and featuring chocolate, gluten free muffins (and more), soups and sandwiches. Why don’t you go there and check it out?”

*OK, Diana K—we will!!!!!!

It’s not so bad being trendy, everyone who looks like us is our friend,

The Fork

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