The Power of Trendiness

Magazine editors and writers are plagued by trends. Always questing for something new to give readers, we tend to create trends by writing about them. This is especially true when it comes to cuisine.

Most culinary trends come and go—the original flash in the pan. But some start as trends, then last for years, becoming part of the standard repertoire. When I started writing about food 35 years ago in Texas, the big trend was “southwest cuisine,” by which was meant a leakage of Mexican flavors, ingredients and techniques, usually learned from the restaurant’s line cooks, into fine cooking based on classic French techniques. Until then, chefs didn’t often use chilies or tortillas, or tomatillos or cumin. Now you can taste Southwest, i.e. Mexican, flavors in all kinds of restaurants and dishes.

It’s a trope that Utah is 10 years behind the rest of the country when it comes to trends. This may be true, but it’s not a bad thing. It means we didn’t have to endure silly things like broccoli coffee, activated charcoal, and “raw” water.  (Utahns know raw water can mean giardia.) Trends that are over now thank goodness.

Instead, Utah chefs have been constrained from over the top creativity by their customers. Utahns don’t want to pay a lot for food in a restaurant. Utahns, historically, have had timid palates. (“What is that octopus doing on my plate?” “The backstroke.”) Not a joke.

Nevertheless, as our list of Dining Award winners shows, Utah chefs are up to the challenge. Menus here get more exciting every year, without necessarily following the national trends.

Of course, some trends we succumb to with enthusiasm. Like selfies. During Sundance last month, our man Stuart Graves amassed and shared with readers a huge number of star selfies. And in this issue, Jeremy Pugh gives pointers on where and how to take the best selfies of yourself with Utah’s beautiful landscape as a backdrop. Tony Gill looks at the problems caused by the latest transportation trends and in a fit of frivolity, Val Rasmussen tips us off to the new trends in nail colors.

Oh well. Some things are important.

Mary Brown Malouf

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Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf is the late Executive Editor of Salt Lake magazine and Utah's expert on local food and dining. She still does not, however, know how to make a decent cup of coffee.

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