What’s your favorite restaurant?
Ancient Greeks and Romans went to thermoplia – small cook shops. 11th century Chinese loved their teahouses. The first “modern” western restaurant was the Parisian Boulanger, established in 1765.
Delmonico’s in New York (1827) and Union Oyster House in Boston (1826) both claim to be America’s first restaurant. That doesn’t include the taverns, pubs, and inns that served drink and food across the land.
Today we have a very different menu.
The National Restaurant Association reports that $799 billion is spent each year on restaurant sales. Over one million restaurants serve the 9 out of 10 people who love to eat out. The average American eats out four to five times a week or over 18 meals a month.
Most popular is Italian, Mexican, and Chinese food. Americans collectively eat about 100 acres of pizza a day or 350 slices a minute. Over 230 million of us munch on corn and tortilla chips. GrubHub reports that one of their top five dishes is General Tso’s chicken.
Not every food craving is predictable. 25% of diners feast on unconventional food like snake, brains, and ants. That’s not including the 5,000 crickets it takes to make one pound of flour, presently fueling the campaign to eat edible bugs.
Some might think that’s almost as creepy as our politicians.
Then there’s our passion for fast food. According to USA Today, “Americans can’t get enough fast food.” One in three adults eats fast food on any given day. The younger you are and higher your income, the more likely you’ll be downing those Big Macs, peperoni pizzas, and cheesy nachos. A recent study found that 80% of adults eat fast food at least once a week.
The Orange Man in The White House joined the fast food frenzy when he served National Championship Football Team, The Clemson Tigers, a feast of pizza, hamburgers, and fries direct from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King. Mr. Trump described the menu as “great American food. . . piled up a mile high.”
Not exactly Presidential Gourmet but we all know his politicized appetite for Kentucky Fried Chicken, Big Macs, Filet-o-Fish, and chocolate milkshakes.
If the Presidential Palate doesn’t appeal, you can always opt for the world’s most expensive hamburgers like the $5000 burger at Fleur in Las Vegas. Then there’s the $8200 pizza at New York’s Favitta’s Family Pizza, complete with a sprinkled diamond topping. Perhaps you might be interested in a $25,000 taco made with edible gold flakes at Grand Velas Los Cabos Resort?
The National Restaurant Association surveyed prominent chefs to identify the top food trends for 2019. 77% ranked cannabis/CBD-infused drinks as Number One, closely followed by cannabis/CBD-infused food. Zero-waste cooking was the third on the list, defined as “cooking that transforms food scraps, damaged produce, and leftovers into culinary delights.”
Dumpster diving anyone?
The chefs believe that global flavors like Thai-rolled ice cream and tajine (North African stew) will hit the restaurant scene. Oldies like overnight oats, anise-flavored cocktails, and pretzels in desserts will fade. New cuts of meat like oyster steak and Merlot will become more prominent on the menu.
So what’s for dinner tonight? Reservations or Instant Pot? KFC or sushi? How about some gourmet black ants, scorpion brittle, or Chirpy Jerky?