The 13 Most Overcooked Food Trends of 2013: #7 Truffle Oil on Everything
The world of gastronomy is as subject to the whim and whimsy of the "trend" as any industry, from fashion to music. Some foods are eternal, like pizza, and others come and go from our midst, for better or for worse.
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So, we got together all of the food writers we could find and asked them what they thought the most overdone, needs to come out of the oven, stick a fork in them already food trends of 2013 were.
Since 13 is our lucky number (we like to live on the edge), that's exactly how many we came up with. Some we loved, some we hated, some we loved to hate, and others we just couldn't resist loving until we hated ourselves.
Here are 13 food trends that have become ubiquitous and shed the sheen of novelty -- now they're just dull and sometimes annoying, in spite of an exciting debut.
(To keep things interesting, we've included a few food trends we hope continue into 2014 and beyond. See if you can identify which trends or innovations were welcome additions in 2013.)
Coming in at number 7...
Truffle Oil on Everything
Enough with the truffle oil. It's not bacon. It doesn't actually make everything taste better. In fact, it ruins more dishes than it improves. Did macaroni and cheese need to be improved? Was the greasy, salty, crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside glory that is the French fry missing something? No. But add the word "truffle" to the description and an inexpensive side dish doubles or triples in price. Not only does the taste and scent of the truffle oil completely overwhelm the dish it's meant to enhance but the vast majority of the time, the cloying substance is actually olive or grape-seed oil with a chemical additive. This is not news: A 2007 piece in the New York Times revealed that chefs knew perfectly well that the cheap substance was just olive oil with 2,4-dithiapentane added to it. And how could they not, considering that actual truffles cost somewhere around $60 an ounce? Apparently, however, the restaurant industry is, like, competitive and junk. After all, 2,4-dithiapentane is an odorant found in some truffles, so it really just "democratizes" truffles so we can all "enjoy" their flavor. But, as world-renowned chef Grant Achatz of Alinea in Chicago told the New York Times, "It doesn't even taste like truffle." Since most people have never tasted the real thing, a massive fraud continues to be perpetuated on the nonelite eating public who don't know the difference. So, no, that food truck that just charged you $18 for stinky mac and cheese is not investing in fungi rooted up by pedigree pigs being shepherded through the French countryside by men in charming berets. It's just cheap oil made to smell expensive to trick you into paying more for the honor of eating it.
-- Rebecca Dittmar
You can contact Rebecca Dittmar, Arts & Culture Editor/Food Blog Editor/Truffle Oil Hater at firstname.lastname@example.org.