Food Trends in the Big City

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In the world of food, there’s one thing that’s constant — nothing stays the same. What was chic a few years ago may be a distant memory today. Food trends that started as a ripple in a big city quickly escalated into a tidal wave that swept across the nation. Take the New York cupcake phenomenon that resulted from a mention in a TV episode of Sex And The City several years ago. Cupcakes were suddenly the rage, and bakeries everywhere were selling them as fast as they could frost them.

When it comes to food trends, there’s always something new and outrageous to try. But how many of these “foods of the moment” are actually good for us? New York City is home to The Food Network, after all, not to mention some of America’s top restaurants. To find out what’s hip and healthy, let’s hit the streets of the Big Apple and a handful of other major U.S. cities.

What’s Cooking in New York?

Everyone’s Going Organic. The word “organic” is popping up more and more in restaurants, food markets, and bakeries all across the city. From organic grains to greens (and other produce), eating organic is hot right now.

Wheat Is Where It’s At. Pizza and subs just got a lot more nutritious in New York City. Some pizzerias are now offering pies made with whole-wheat crust. You’ll also find whole-wheat or multigrain bread options in bakeries and delis, such as Amy’s Bread at the Chelsea Market. Amy’s now sells whole-wheat Irish soda bread and other multigrain breads. The Grill at All About Food, Rockefeller Center, offers several sandwiches on seven-grain baguette or grilled whole- wheat bread.

Ban on Trans. New York City is also leading the nation with its ban on trans fat cooking oils and spreads in all restaurants starting in July 2007. According to the new citywide regulation, restaurants may not use partially hydrogenated oils, shortenings, or margarines for frying, pan-frying, or grilling if they contain 0.5 grams or more of trans fat per serving. cholesterol, trans and antioxidant-rich tomatoes and herbal teas.

Hungry in Seattle?

Seattle is setting its own food trends on the left coast. “The biggest Seattle trend is the overabundance of ‘small plate’ restaurants, allowing people to have a delicious meal without having to overeat,” writes Nancy Leson, restaurant critic for the Seattle Times, in an email. By serving smaller portions, these restaurants are encouraging their patrons to eat sensible amounts of food.

And if farm-fresh organic eggs count as “health food,” then add them to the list of healthy food trends making waves in Seattle, notes Leson. “Simple farm-fresh organic eggs have become the star of the show at restaurants everywhere: poached and served over grilled asparagus; soft-boiled and placed over a frisee salad; or baked in salt and turned into saffron-colored strands of fresh pasta.”

A Little Bit of Everything in Chicago

There’s a food ban going on in Chicago, too, and it’s got some fancy restaurants crying “fowl.” The city of Chicago has banned foie gras (goose or duck ), reports Carol Haddix, food editor at the Chicago Tribune. The high-fat, high-cholesterol gourmet item has been officially taken off city restaurant menus. And it sounds like goose liver may be just the beginning of food bans in Chicago. “Now the city council is aiming to ban trans fats, but that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere right now,” notes Haddix in an email.

Chicago may be halfway across the country from Seattle, but the small-plate craze is very popular there, too. According to Haddix, lots of restaurants all over town are going the “tidbit” route and serving smaller portions to happy patrons.