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That’s all, 2022. From the good (most popular recipes!) to the bad (least-favorite food trends!), we’re spending December looking back. Head here for all the stories in BA’s year in review.
Food culture, at its best, is lighthearted, unpretentious, and, plainly, fun. This year we saw our beloved Corn Kid ascend to the pop culture canon, in the company of Sexy Dirtbag Chef and the sbagliato. The year’s mascot was, in fact, rotisserie chicken man, and I’m not willing to debate it. We’d happily shepherd each of them into 2023.
Oh, but the foils to our cherished headliners were plentiful. We saw alarmist, oft-unsubstantiated claims surface about everything supposedly wrong with what we eat and how we eat it—an extension of Twitter and Reddit’s favorite genre of Dumb Discourse. Food influencers tossed anything edible onto a plank of wood and called it a board (looking at you, mayo), while others propagated falsehoods about the merits of eating raw meat (ahem, Liver King).
So in the spirit of closing the door on 2022—and with it all of its ills—these are the trends that we can do without in the new year.
Crypto’s invasion of restaurant culture
For the crypto-obsessed among us, 2022 has been a rollercoaster of a year. This year was characterized by a wildly fluctuating crypto market and one incredibly notable crypto-exchange implosion. While scores of men with the same dead look in their eye have tried to explain what an NFT is to me, I have remained deliberately and blissfully ignorant, hoping to ride out the fad. Not everyone shares my distaste, though, and unfortunately, this year the restaurant industry was not immune to the wandering tentacles of the cryptoverse. No doubt lured in by promises of outsize financial returns, restaurants and their owners got into the NFT game. Some, like Dame, sold NFT’s in exchange for reservation privileges, while others, like FlyFish Club, worked as a members-only club. Those willing to fork over thousands in exchange for a piece of digital “art” will be granted access to the club, which reportedly features a lounge, outdoor space, and an intimate omakase room (my eyes are rolling out of my head). Will the crypto bubble finally pop for good in 2023? Will we all forget about NFTs and the absurdity of paying millions for a jpeg of a Bored Ape like it was all just a nightmare? A boy can dream. —Sam Stone, staff writer
The rise of the raw meat diet
Are straight men okay? It’s an ongoing investigation. Early this year I read the headline “I’ve been eating raw meat for 166 days and I won’t stop until I die,” and it’s really telling that all I could do was blink and switch tabs so I could finish a work email. The Instagram account @rawmeatexperiment, now worryingly defunct, documented a man named “John”’s daily diet of uncooked steak, egg yolks, and raw animal milk. It’s only one example of what’s being dubbed the raw meat diet or carnivore diet, which rose in popularity this year thanks to several (mostly male) celebrity endorsements. The fitness influencer Brian Johnson, better known as Liver King, gained attention through his demonstrations of the “ancestral lifestyle,” which entails chomping on enormous bloody livers and running shirtless in the woods. Pauly Long, also known as Testicle King, promotes eating raw animal testicles. A whole subreddit of raw meat fans is exchanging tips and documenting their post-meal nausea and diarrhea. Even Heidi Montag, admittedly the only woman I’ve seen getting in on the trend, is eating raw bison heart. Diet advocates claim raw meat improves their physical and mental health, although nutrition experts have pushed back on this. Brian Johnson revealed recently that he’s been lying about raw meat enabling his super ripped physique—he’s actually been taking a monthly cocktail of potent steroids. I feel bad for everyone involved. I love a (cooked) cheeseburger as much as the next person, but please, just eat a piece of lettuce. —Karen Yuan, lifestyle editor
People getting mad about folks cooking without gloves in their own kitchen
The comment I find especially grating on cooking videos on TikTok: “Why aren’t you wearing gloves?”—to which I feel my fingers itching to respond, “Are you eating the food this person on your phone screen is cooking?” It makes sense after two full calendar years of living under pandemic precautions that we’re particularly concerned about germs and food safety. On the other hand, our obsession with cleanliness and unachievable sterility in the kitchen is just another sign of how disconnected we’ve become from the very dirty, messy, natural process by which food makes it to our table. It’s been proven time and time again that wearing gloves actually makes you less mindful about cross-contamination and makes you less likely to regularly wash your hands. And unless the creator is actually cooking food at an industrial scale in a state where it’s the law, there’s no need. “Why aren’t you wearing gloves,” is just another way for commenters to virtue signal their own projected cleanliness or slyly couch ignorant or racist commentary on food traditionally eaten or prepared with hands. Cook with gloves in your own home kitchen if it bothers you that much. —Antara Sinha, associate cooking editor
The proliferation, popularity, and multimillion dollar investment in influencer food
Every day I feel my bones crumbling into dust, and nothing speeds up the process like hearing about 10,000 youthful fans lining up for mediocre food at the restaurants of their favorite internet influencers. This year one of the biggest restaurant debuts came from MrBeast, a YouTube influencer who, if you do not know, you should get to know because maybe he will be our president one day. It’s not about the food, of course, and this new era of influencer-driven food businesses—MrBeast, Dylan LeMay, Emma Chamberlain—is not so different from “traditional” celebrities like Eminem opening restaurants. People want to engage with the objects of their fandom. I get it! The part that troubles me: TikToker Dylan LeMay supposedly raised $1.5 million to open an ice cream shop. MrBeast got $5 million to launch his snack line. I seize up thinking how much investment goes into food businesses whose success relies primarily on video stunts versus, you know, the food. Alas, I’m old-fashioned. —Serena Dai, editorial director
Butter boards gone wild into other boards
Butter boards went viral on TikTok in mid-September, inspired by a recipe from Joshua McFadden’s book Six Seasons, which came out in 2017. Basically: softened butter smeared on a wooden board, decorated with whatever’s around (say, hot honey or lemon zest or edible flowers), then scooped up with hunks of bread. What’s not to like? It’s an arts and crafts project that you get to eat with your hands. If the trend had stopped there, I wouldn’t be writing this, but we can’t have nice things on the internet. Soon came the cream cheese boards. Hummus boards. Avocado boards. Pumpkin butter boards. Peanut butter boards. Cookie butter boards. Papa John’s garlic sauce boards. I could go on. But I don’t want to. —Emma Laperruque, senior cooking editor
The rise of dubious “legal psychedelics”
Everyone thinks they’re a psychonaut these days. Even the Silicon Valley bros are microdosing magic mushrooms—for productivity—which is how you know a trend has officially gone mainstream. Shrooms are (sadly and stupidly) still largely illegal, so of course a bunch of intentionally trippy-looking companies peddling their phony knockoffs marched into our cultural consciousness this year. The ever-growing “legal psychedelics” industry includes gummies, edgy sparkling waters, chocolates, and coffee beans laced with nootropics such as lion’s mane and ginger root. All of them claim to induce a range of mind-altering sensations: “mental clarity”; increased “focus, memory, and positivity”; “a clean boost of energy”; and calm nerves. I need as much of this as anyone. But taste aside, it’s giving CBD circa 2017, and I don’t trust it one bit. These companies are either trying to sell snake oil to the normies who don’t know better, or they’re banking on legalization and planning to eventually flip the switch. Why must the brands (and the bros) always ruin a good thing? —Ali Francis, staff writer
The state of restaurant reservation culture
We published a story in September asking a question we thought might resonate with our readers: When did it get so hard to snag a restaurant reservation? As it turned out, about 300,000 of you were wondering the same thing. If 2022 was a year of incredible restaurants and unforgettable meals, it was also one in which we fought tooth and nail to actually get into these restaurants. The challenge of getting into buzzy spots—and even some reliable neighborhood faves—made way for some pretty interesting trends. People lined up at 4:30 p.m. in hopes of trying some of New York’s best fish and chips. They gifted private jet rides and Rolexes and Gucci loafers (what even) to restaurant owners to win their way into a prime spot. They did the good ol’ fashioned thing: started scalping black market reservations. In other words, things were very normal and civilization did not fall apart at all. What does all of this mean in the long run for you, a person who loves to eat out? It’s still hard to know, as restaurants settle into new protocols and rhythms they adopted during the pandemic. But if you get quoted a two-hour wait at your favorite restaurant, don’t blame restaurant workers. This ride is probably a lot crazier for them. —Elazar Sontag, restaurant editor
Low-calorie sweeteners are dominating the beverage aisle
Where did all the sugar go? Because it’s not in our drinks anymore. So many canned beverages hit the market this year: bubbly kombucha, fancy tepache, and pretty lemonades. They’re all jazzed up with low-calorie sweeteners like monk fruit, stevia, erythritol, or agave inulin, which would in theory make them ideal for pounding all day while working from home in pilled sweats. Only they taste absolutely foul. My stomach swells up like a balloon every time I drink one. And I am somehow hungry by the fourth sip. The demonization of sugar has been happening for decades, spurred on by both legitimate and hyperbolic scare studies about its effects on our health. I know some people can’t have sugar, and I am sorry for them. But I would much rather have the odd glass of nice refreshing sugar-filled Pepsi-milk over a million low-calorie knockoffs. Balance, sweeties. —Ali Francis, staff writer