Eating better and more adventurously is becoming an obsession, especially among people with money to spend. Healthier eating--and not-so-healthy eating--as well as the number and variety of food choices and venues continue to increase at an ever-quickening pace.
Globalization is the master trend that will drive the world of food in the years ahead. Consumers traveling the globe, both virtually and in reality, will be able to sweep up in-gredients, packaged foods, recipes, and cooking techniques from every corner of the earth at an ever-intensifying and accelerating pace. Formerly remote ingredients and cooking styles are creating a whole new culinary mosaic as they are transplanted and reinterpreted all over the world.
Many factors are behind this, but none more so than the influence of the great international hotel chains. Virtually every chef who has worked for Hilton, Westin, Peninsula, or any other major chain gathers global experience in locales as diverse as Singapore, New Orleans, Toronto, and Dubai. At each stop, they carry away cooking ideas and techniques they can and do use elsewhere.
This will contribute to the ongoing rise of what I call global roadfood--a mixture of recipes and cooking styles drawn from many cultures to meet the needs of the increasing number of international road warriors--business travelers whose customers, employees, and suppliers are spread in all corners of the world.
This trend will gain even greater momentum as ambitious young adults stake their own futures on internationalization, treating broader food savvy as an important aspect of their own advancement. Young people will need knowledge of food and ingredients from different continents and cultures as one aspect of socialization, enculturation, cultural exchange, and success. In country after country, there seems little doubt that global cuisine will make its biggest inroads among the younger set. Many in the generations now coming of age will treat world-ranging food knowledge and experience as key elements in furthering their personal plans, business acumen, and individual growth.
The Internet has made global contacts a matter of routine. Computer networking will permit chefs and others in the food industry, including consumers, to link directly with the best available authorities in faraway nations, supplementing or bypassing secondhand sources of information altogether.
Many culinarians are destined to become virtual globetrotters as world-ranging interviews, consultations, and exchanges become the norm, thanks to instantaneous translation and innovative telephones that allow a face-to-face presence.
Time, with all its implications, will also be a factor in emerging world food trends. More and more of us are destined to operate on global time--that is, at full tilt 24 hours a day. This will become the norm for companies with resources scattered all over the planet. Beyond the 24-hour supermarkets many of us already take for granted, there will also be three-shift shopping centers open at any hour. Restaurants in the great business capitals intent on cultivating an international clientele will serve midnight breakfasts or break-of-dawn dinners (with the appropriate wines) without raising a single eyebrow.
This will lead directly to the trend I call main meal blur--society's growing withdrawal from rigid breakfast-lunch-dinner definitions that mandate a large, primary meal and two smaller meals at regularly defined times each day. Not only are a great many people starting to vary when they eat their biggest meal, but many actually vary their preferences from day to day. In years to come, this trend will be strengthened by those who set their own weekly work schedules and by the growing legion of people who routinely cross several time zones by air or through cyberspace as part of their work. …