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Food

6 Products, Flavours and Cuisines That Will Influence Food Culture in 2023

What you'll be seeing—and eating—this year.
By Renée S. Suen
6 Products, Flavours and Cuisines That Will Influence Food Culture in 2023

Photo illustration by Aimee Nishitoba.

After weathering a complex and sometimes turbulent year, 2023 and its promise of fresh starts—and exciting food-related developments—can’t come fast enough. Here are six food trends, large and small, that are influencing how we eat this year.

Plant-based seafood

While the faux meat market saw a decline in sales last year, according to Global Food Forums’ 2022 Protein Trends and Technologies Seminar, the demand for plant-based seafood, while small, is on the rise.

One alternative that has come to the forefront is seaweed. Full of vitamins and minerals, seaweeds—like nori and kelp—aren’t just nutritious but also versatile and are showing up as chips, fish-free “fish” sauce and more. Made from the usual suspects including pea and soy protein among other ingredients like jackfruit and potatoes.

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West african food concept. Traditional Wset African dishes assortment - peanut soup, jollof rice, grilled chicken wings, dry fried bananas plantains, nigerian chicken kebabs, meat pies, top view

West African flavours

Full of bold flavours with vegetables as the base of many of its dishes, it’s easy to see why African cuisines, especially those of West African regions, is piquing interest in restaurants and home kitchens globally. There’s a widening selection of cookbooks spotlighting foods from the region or the African diaspora. And a recent influx of West African restaurants opening in the GTA (think Afrobeat Kitchen and Blessinglicious) Montreal (Mokili) and Vancouver (Arike), means it’s even more accessible than before.

Tin can of sprats, sardines. Top view

Tinned fish

We’re not talking the $2 tuna that comes in a can, but high-quality Iberian conservas that can fresh fish, molluscs and shellfish in olive oil and escabeche. These splurgy tinned delicacies don’t just preserve the freshness of the seafood, which is processed at its peak, but are more energy-efficient than the regular grocery store kind to produce both in the storage of seasonal catch (versus in commercial freezers), in transportation (the carbon footprint of cars are lighter) and the source of their contents are often easier to trace (from fisheries to the canneries). The latter is important when it comes to being able to identify which products have been harvested using responsible fishing practices.

4 cans pictured, each with the word libra on them and a picture of a red sun and blue water beneath

Non-alcoholic beverages

Whether for personal or dietary reasons, or in response to the increased consumption that happened during the pandemic, it’s now remarkably easy—and delicious—to enjoy something sophisticated and booze-free in social drinking situations. Besides dealcoholized spirits like award-winning Seedlip and Ceders, kombuchas such as Silver Swallow, or juice and tea-based drinks like Proxies, there is now wine-like Jukes Cordialities, a just-add-water concoction that has wine-like properties and is made from a blend of fruits, herbs, vegetables and organic apple cider vinegar.

Woman hands preparing beetroot pasta on a wooden board. Close-up of a female chef making beetroot pasta.

Non-zucchini zoodles

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You may be familiar with “zoodles” made from zucchini and squash or gluten-free pastas made from rice, quinoa or pulses. But a new wave of plant-based pasta alternatives are hitting grocery store shelves and are aimed at helping us up our daily vegetable intake, including noodles made from beets, carrots and even hearts of palm.

Raw Organic Medjool Dates Ready to Eat

Dates

Although these old-world fruits have long been a Middle Eastern pantry staple, paleo-friendly dates—also a vegan honey alternative—are increasingly showing up as a natural sweetener in sauces, pastes and condiments; as a ground and dehydrated alternative to refined sugar, and as a flavour base for a number of snack foods. Nutrition-wise, dates are a good source of antioxidants and fibre, have a low glycemic index, and make a great snack.

Wooden spoon with Hojicha tea This japanese green tea is roasted over charcoal to give a unique flavour

Hojicha

According to food review site Yelp, global searches for this lightly roasted Japanese green tea have jumped significantly in the past couple of years. More mellow than its green counterpart, brewed hojicha is amber in colour and has a deep, toasted flavour. Delicious served hot or chilled, it also stands up well against dairy or dairy alternatives. Already a popular flavour in many Asian-branded snacks and desserts, these toasty flavours should be appearing more often in your local café in lattes, baked goods, and ice cream desserts.

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