By the end of 2008, the food industry was bracing itself for the recession to take its toll. Then swine flu hit. And then the Taco Bell chihuahua died. Even as the nation scaled back, people continued to eat out and chefs met their recession-special desires with innovation and creativity. And several meltdowns.
So, as we approach 2010, let's raise our glasses to these top food moments of 2009.
The Foie Gras Debate
As the palate of the United States becomes more sophisticated, Americans are gaining a taste for foie gras just as animals activists are decrying the fatted liver. While this debate has always been around to some extent, this year it most certainly came to a head as celebrity chefs David Chang and Anthony Bourdain spoke out against animal activists and promoted farms that used more humane practices to produce the delicacy.
Described as indescribable—helpful, right?—black garlic is this year's new flavor arrival that swept both the food industry and the media by storm. Believed to be an ancient food from the Middle East and Asia, where it is popular today, its use goes along with the general trend to return to more traditional food production such as house cured meats, brewed beers, and homemade cheeses. Black garlic itself is fresh garlic that has been fermented for 30 days, which turns it black, giving it its name. How have you used black garlic? Comment below!
Gordon Ramsay Loses It
We're all familiar with the British celebrity chef loosing his cool on his television shows or just in general, but who ever thought the wealthy celebrity chef would be forced to sell off his Los Angeles location as his restaurant profits plummeted close to 90%. Great scott! That is unacceptable Mr. Ramsay!
The Taco Bell Star Chihuahua Dies
Remember the Taco Bell commercials around 1999 where a hyper chihuahua named Gidget went crazy over Taco Bell food? Well, sadly the 15-year-old chihuahua, who was in retirement after her time as the Taco Bell dog, headed up to doggy heaven on July 21 after suffering a massive stroke. May you rest in peace dear Gidget. You and the Taco Bell food you so loved.
We fell in love with bacon last year and this year bacon got sick. Well, not bacon per se, but the pigs that we raise for bacon. Pigs give us bacon but they also give us H1N1, although bacon, thankfully, won't give us the dreaded swine flu.
Twitter and Chefs
Everyone and their grandmother jumped on Twitter this year and chefs were no exception. Nor were food carts. And restaurants. Chefs tweet about everything from the newest shipment of beef cheeks to the pie recipe they just discovered. Food carts tell us their whereabouts while restaurants announce promotions that you'll only find out if you follow them. We used to think that food was only for eating. Apparently it's for tweeting too!
Are you following me on Twitter? You can @jackyhayward and @JilliIceCream!
Food Carts and Home Cooking
Recession specials were the big trend this year and with them came the food trucks and a return to home-styled cooking. We weren't willing to spend half our salary on fancy restaurant food but we wanted sustenance that would warm our bellies and remind us of times when money wasn't so tight. So formal dining took it down a notch as food made its way to us on wheels, tasting just like mom would have made it.
White House Community Garden
We've been following the Obamas' eating habits since before President Obama took office and we were just as gripped by Michelle Obama planting a victory garden on the White House lawn. Yes, the farm to table movement has also made it to the White House.
Julie and Julia
Julia Child rose to fame in the 1960s. Julie Powell published her first bestseller in 2002. And in 2009 Julie and Julia hit the silver-screen, and the nation was seized by the Julie and Julia craze. Did you know that Julia Child's book Mastering the Art of French Cooking has been published 41 times?
After nearly 70 years of fine eating, the most recognizable name in food media shuttered. Ruth Reichl was the former editor-in-chief of the magazine and is still promoting her last project as Gourmet's editor: The Gourmet Cookbook.