Wednesday, August 13, 2014
New York Times - "Special Sauce for Measuring Food Trends: The Fried Calamari Index"
"Fried calamari made a voyage that dozens of foods have made over the years: They start out being served in forward-thinking, innovative restaurants in New York and other capitals of gastronomy. Over time, they become more and more mainstream, becoming a cliché on big-city menus, showing up in high-end restaurants in smaller cities, and eventually finding their way to neighborhood bistros in the hinterlands and chain restaurants across the country."
"But can we quantify when these food trends emerged, and how quickly they made the transition from urban elites to mass acceptance? And is the way these trends play out changing? I saw recently that Chili’s, the chain restaurant, is now offering guacamole made fresh by the side of your table; that seemed newfangled when I first had the same experience at Rosa Mexicano a decade ago. That voyage from a (once) trendy New York place to Chili’s seems a lot faster than the similar voyage undertaken by the humble squid a generation ago.
For a fascinating, if imperfect, way to measure the spread of food trends, we came up with a list of trendy ingredients and dishes of a generation ago and today, and put the Times Chronicle to work to see how frequently those terms appeared in our pages. It gives one window into the life cycle of these food trends. If anything, given the paper’s New York-centric restaurant coverage, we might expect it to be a bit ahead of the curve relative to a broader sample of newspapers from across the country."