I’m not here to talk about foodie trends or the flavours that are going to take 2017 by storm. What I propose instead is very simple: take advantage of the next 12 months to open your palate to new flavours.
Try new foods and explore the ones you already know more deeply. Don’t limit yourself to the usual flavours and be open to new culinary experiences.
For meat eaters, vegetarian burgers may seem like a sin, but 2017 is the year to give them a try.
Some veggie burgers try to mimic the taste of meat and, depending on where you eat them; you could be surprised by how good they are. There are also veggie burgers made from lentils or chickpeas that don’t try to mimic anything at all and have a very original flavour which, and in my opinion, they are much better than the others.
… and meat burgers too
But if the idea of a vegetarian hamburger doesn’t convince you or you’ve tried it and you want to move on, you can always simply go back to the world of meat. But why not try different “burgers” to the traditional ones?
There are so many combinations available nowadays with veal and lamb, stuffed with blue cheese, with caramelized onions, honey, cherry tomatoes and some amazing secret sauces.
My favourite? A veal burger with a chorizo sausage split down the middle, a fried egg, a slice of ham, melted cheddar, avocado, tomato, lettuce and sauce. In some Latin American countries these are known as a “triple bomb”, and not without reason.
Artisanal or homemade bread
Bread has been with us since prehistory and has evolved to the point where it is now produced industrially.
But nothing in the world resembles artisanal bread, made with heirloom yeast and mixed with a myriad of seeds, condiments and flours.
Make space for it at your table. Try breakfast with a loaf made from chickpea flour. Make yourself a sandwich with some chocolate bread or a roll made from malt flour and nuts.
Wontons and dumplings
Dumplings stuffed with pork and vegetables, or just vegetables, are one of the Chinese and Japanese dishes par excellence that you’ve simply got to try.
They come stuffed with chicken, fish, prawns, calamari and beef in almost any combination you can imagine.
What about having dumplings instead of your usual starter next time ?
Spicy fermented cabbage, Korean style. This is a food with a strong and distinctive flavour that divides people: you either love it or hate it.
It can be eaten on its own with white rice or it can be incorporated into other meals, like as a filling for dumplings.
Lately it has been “Westernised” and you can find a version with a milder flavour used in fusion dishes in some modern restaurants.
There are never leftovers from a Mexican meal and everyone is always happy to have tacos with shredded pork, chicken or ‘cochinita pibil’ (more pork!).
What we don’t always handle so well is the chilli. You don’t need to pile it on to enjoy it, but a few drops can give an incredible new dimension to the flavour.
Also, there are thousands of other types of tacos to try beyond those we already know. Fancy some grasshopper tacos?
It’s very difficult to choose a single Turkish dish to represent this country’s entire cuisine so the best thing to do is keep trying new dishes.
And no, the Döner Kebab from the corner doesn’t count as “authentic Turkish food”.
Italian Tripe Stew
Here in Spain, we love our ‘gut-busting’ Madrid-style tripe stew and tripe stew with chickpeas, but this delicious cut of beef is not exclusive to Spanish cuisine.
Try Florentine-style stew, made with a soft and minimalist homemade tomato sauce that does without the chorizo and other richer ingredients found in its Spanish counterpart.
Curries are not exclusive to Indian cuisine and there are curries from many other Asian countries like China, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia. There are also curries from Africa and even from the Caribbean.
It’s not hard to incorporate some curries into your repertoire. Not all of them are spicy and, in fact, the spices are very good for you.
What kind of curry to try? Maybe start with vegetable curries, which are the healthiest and are particularly delicious: a creamy chickpea curry with spinach is a good place to begin.
The trend towards craft beer has been around for a few years now and gives no sign of slowing down. In fact, all indications are that it will continue well into the future.
If you have not yet immersed yourself, maybe this is the year to give it a go?
You may have craft brewers in your very own city. Why not track them down and give their products a try? Not only are craft beers more delicious and have that unique homemade quality, but you’ll also be part of a movement that, although growing, still needs a bit of a push.