It’s been a year of banana bread and dalgona coffee
2020 was supposed to be the year you finally took that trip you wanted, tried out that café at the end of the universe, and finally began living the life you’ve dreamed of. Except COVID-19 hit and the entire world went into a lockdown and you were cooped up inside your house. Suddenly, your home became the centre of your universe, or rather, your entire universe and everything you did was inside your house. And so it was with the most important food trends of the year too: everything happened inside your house.
1. Comfort food became our default go-to option
It has been a difficult year for most of us. As weeks of lockdown turned into months, we began to grow anxious. As is wont, when we suffer from anxiety, we are more likely to reach out to foods from our childhood. This is because these foods make you nostalgic and also bring back memories of simpler times. India’s median age is about 29. And so Maggi was an integral part of growing up for an entire generation. Which is why when the lockdown was announced, Maggi was one of the first items to go off the shelves. While Maggi may be a comfort food for some, for others it would be simple dal chawal or rajma rice. Whatever our comfort zone was, we went for it at the first opportunity we got – at the end of a difficult day at work, on the first working day after a long weekend, etc.
2. Our carbohydrates consumption went through the roof
The other foods that you turn to in such times, consciously or unconsciously, are ones that have carbs. Carbohydrates encourage the secretion of a chemical called serotonin. It is what is popularly known as a ‘happy chemical’ and carbs are proven mood enhancers. They also help you sleep better and that’s why people living with depression are usually asked to increase their carbohydrate intake. Think about it and you’d probably realise that most comfort foods have carbs. Which is also what makes a dish like pasta particularly popular in times like this. And by that, we don’t mean pasta of the healthy variety but rather the mac-and-cheese kinds. In the initial few months, carbs became central to our diet: from potatoes and cheese to bread and cakes, we sought comfort in carbohydrates.
3. We began baking more
Earlier, weekends would serve as an excuse to get out of the house and head down to that newly-opened café for brunch. But with restaurants and eateries being shut, we were suddenly looking at two full days at home and nothing meaningful to do with those hours. Our craving for carbohydrates steered us towards the least used appliance in our house – the microwave oven. We began baking in earnest and we began baking everything – from sourdough breads and banana breads to cookies and cakes. Experts believe that this trend will continue into the New Year, mostly since not everyone is as comfortable heading out as they used to be.
4. We ordered-in more than ever before
Food delivery apps suddenly saw a massive surge in demand as more people began to order in rather than stepping out. Several top restaurants that were still shut opened their kitchens nonetheless and started delivery services. Even India’s oldest luxury hotel chain, IHCL, that runs the Taj hotels launched a food delivery app that serviced select area codes in select cities. Ordering-in, as a trend, is also likely to stay on. For restaurants, it is predicted to serve as an add-on to the dine-in crowd.
5. Home chefs mushroomed
The cloud kitchen concept had been on the rise for some years before the pandemic hit. But with the closing down of restaurants, ordering in from home chefs became the most obvious choice for several people. Sure, we did order in from our favourite restaurants but once the novelty of calling in food from the same 5-10 restaurants wore out, we began seeking variety. The home chefs with their unique cuisines – think Bhori, Parsi, etc – became a great option to try out. It also helped that this food was made at home, adding to the solace that we weren’t just ordering from some faceless kitchen but someone whom we could speak with and call in case we had any doubts.