As the American palate evolves, our love of international foods influences many facets of our lives: where we go to dinner, how we grocery shop, where we travel. A more subtle consequence of our growing interest in and sophistication about new dishes and ingredients from afar is that we have become more curious about the origins of foods closer to home.
Alongside forays into Asian, Mediterranean and regional Mexican, many consumers and diners are returning their attention to a group of Northern European regions. While rich in tradition, their foods have not been considered sophisticated or trendy.
But that is changing, according to the "New Old World Cuisine: Culinary Trend Mapping Report" from San Francisco-based Center for Culinary Development and Packaged Facts, New York.
Old World most often refers to Europe, especially its historic traditions and charms, and encompasses a vast number of culinary regions, particularly Italy, France and Spain. New Old World Cuisine looks northward to less celebrated food regions: Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria and Belgium.
Because many food-loving Americans are digging deeper to understand where their everyday food comes from, they are unearthing more authentic versions to buy, sample or make at home. Just as many American food enthusiasts want to learn more about Yucatan or Korean dishes, there is a desire to know more about Old World favorites that have been on many of our menus for much, much longer. What we are discovering is great taste, small batch flavors and textures, and long-standing food pairings that continue to make gustatory sense, such as beer with bratwurst, smoked fish with dark hearty breads and schnitzel with spaetzle.
"We see Americans grabbing hold of the flavors and traditions of these culinary stalwarts and bringing them into the 21st century food landscape," says Kimberly Egan, CEO of CCD (www.ccdsf.com). "From schnitzel food trucks to the wave of craft beer gardens popping up in city after city, we are clearly reclaiming or embracing the culture and traditions of these Old World nations and refreshing them as our own.
"It's thrilling to witness the rise of these long under-heralded Old World cuisines within the American food landscape. As consumers continue to seek out excitement and enlightenment through new global cuisines, they will continue to learn how local flavors and foods are born out of culture, an understanding that can enrich and add meaning to our eating experiences."