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Culinary predictions for 2020

By Gene Gonzalez

There are many trends in the new year that I feel will catch on. These may even be adopted by pop culture since trends usually start among those who are daring, innovative, and well-traveled.

In the beverage scene, popular practices of drinking coffee have been dynamic over the past years. Espresso machines now extract liquid that is thicker and more flavorful, and many coffee enthusiasts are turning to the pour-over method since it gives the coffee minimal intervention, thus bringing out certain subtle characters that can’t be found in espresso extractions.

The topic of pure arabica beans (now more preferred by enthusiasts) is a sensitive issue in the coffee market. Many roasters are not familiar with the beans and simply roast them to the trendy medium color. They don’t consider acidity a factor and use the beans’ fruitiness as an excuse for an acidic cup. As roasters, they have to achieve balance and be familiar with the beans’ characters. Many are now turning to a blend of both arabica and robusta, while those who dislike acidity are opting for pure robusta blends instead.

thanh-tran-zOM92N4Jj9Y-unsplashThere is an increased preference for the pour-over method among coffee enthusiasts

Excelsa will be a hit this year. Hardcore enthusiasts will buy very expensive beans that require intent tasting as these coffees are as light as teas and have floral and fruity characters. I recently had the geisha beans from Taiwan and the local Kalasan No Mori variety that has floral, stone fruit, and sweet spicewood characters. They are nice but one needs to be in a contemplative mood when tasting these rare beans.

More awards are also to be reaped for our Philippine chocolates, though improvement is still needed in some areas. Many of the local chocolate bars are still too dry on the palate and need the velvety smoothness that is achieved from good processing and state-of-the-art machinery. Two decades ago, I was called insane for putting chocolate on savory dishes, but now more chefs are seeing this does not dull the senses, specifically the palate.

The words homemade and homegrown will be used often, with chefs learning to appreciate artisanal work such as cured or smoked meats and seafood, as well as sourdough or long-fermented bread with fruit preserves and pickles. Slow-cooked food using alternative meat cuts will be in. Expect patience among customers who are dining out.

italian-1082230_1280Consumers will realize that homemade pasta is healthier

Longer aged steaks, on the other hand, will be popular with the cheesier and gamier flavors. Filipinos will opt to order rarer cooked steaks and roasts, and they will also realize that fresh pasta is healthier and richer than commercially dried noodles. Old or classic recipes will be recreated with a modern twist, while the use of old cooking methods and equipment will be new again.

Chefs will be more adventurous with foraged food. Rare or wild foraged vegetables and fruits will reappear as basic ingredients while rare regional produce will be used by more innovative restaurants. With the increasing prices of fish and seafood, alternative varieties of fish are expected to be given more attention.

Foreign flavors will also invade the Filipino palate as Szechuan peppercorns, chili combinations, and skewered char-grilled items from Mainland China will be given a try. The same is the case with the natural flavors of Taiwan and the myriad styles of tofu. Milk tea, on the other hand, will stay on as new sinkers will be introduced. There will also be a rise in the preference of basic milk tea ingredients like real cooked caramel, fresh milk, and freshly made boba.

ivana-cajina-qvQdLikf7wk-unsplashOld cooking equipment like cast iron skillets will make a comeback

With all these good things coming soon to our tables, I still have a few things on my wishlist. I wish for better, more imaginative, and cleaner Filipino street food, more dynamic regional cuisines (as many have not yet been fully developed), promotion and documentation of recipes from far-flung areas, and greater Filipino pride in our food.

A happy and delicious 2020!

You can email me at or message me on Instagram. Subscribe to my YouTube “The Kitchen Scoundrel Food Channel” for some exciting recipes monthly

Source: Manila Bulletin

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