- Kara Kimbrough
'Retro food' is a new trend I can embrace
By Kara Kimbrough
It’s 2023 – a new year filled with a dizzying array of food and beverage trends filtering down from the “experts.” A few I simply can’t wrap my head around are kelp-based burgers and sauces, climate-conscious food production, pasta made with sweet potatoes and greens and soft drinks infused with medicine. No…just no.
However, there are more than a few trends that actually make sense and that I’m willing to try:
1. Plant-based protein –I pray I don’t get a warning from the Mississippi Beef Council. Disclaimer: I love a good rib-eye on the grill as much as the next person. However, replacing a few meat-based meals with protein-rich beans, grains and nuts might not be a bad thing.
2. Immersive dining experience – Enjoying an entertaining dinner courtesy of live theatre performances, dinner theatre and tableside service is making a comeback from the 1940’s and 50’s. I’m on board for tableside service, a byone practice in which waiters serve diners from a rolling trolley or nearby sideboard. The last time I remember this happening was at Jackson’s LeFleur’s Restaurant in the 1980’s. A server rolled a massive 5-tier cart filled to the brim with cakes, pies and other decadent desserts around the room in order for diners to make a selection. Yes, it’s definitely a practice that needs reviving.
3. Dairy-alternative milks – I’m already a fan of almond milk and other flavors, but now pistachio nut milk and other flavors are coming soon to a dairy case near you. These milk-alternatives are a great choice for dairy-intolerant consumers and those like me who don’t really care for the taste of milk.
4. Chocolate charcuterie boards – These popular boards filled with everything imaginable are set to become even more popular in 2023. The newest craze is piling chocolate-covered strawberries, chocolate bark instead of boring crackers, chocolate truffles and other favorites on a board along with favorite fruits and cheeses.
5. Tinned fish – Supposedly the pandemic caused a scarcity of some fresh fish, causing more Americans to rely on tinned fish like tuna, salmon and other small species. Not sure I can get on board with the suggested “sea-cuterie" snack boards and "tinned fish date nights." But I’m fine with opening a tin or two of water-based tuna and healthy salmon whenever I need to eat healthier.
6. Filipino food – This cuisine is gaining momentum across the country, including in some areas of Mississippi. One of the most well-known Filipino dishes is adobo, regarded as the national dish. A popular version of adobo features chicken or pork stewed with soy sauce, vinegar, peppercorns and garlic. Other versions include fish, shrimp, or lamb for the protein and coconut milk or turmeric to flavor the sauce. Elvie’s in Ridgeland is a good option for Filipino dishes prepared by its talented chef.
7. Low and No-Alcohol Drinks –Increasing in popularity are restaurants and “bars” serving only drinks with a low (or no) alcohol content. “No-ABV bars,” as they’re called, are perfect for those who can’t or prefer not to consume alcohol, but still enjoy socializing over a cool beverage.
Last, “Retro food Reminiscent of Childhood” is finally making a comeback. Many restaurants, in an effort to attract baby boomers, serve dishes like mac and cheese and pizza bites as appetizers. They’re even adding old-school cereals like Captain Crunch to the breakfast menu. Sadly, one of my favorite childhood/teenage breakfast foods, Welch’s Jelly Doughnuts, has been discontinued. I’ve read that jelly doughnuts are “still available in the freezer case,” but I’ve never seen them. If you’ve spotted any, please drop me an email so I can stock up.
In the spirit of retro, I'm sharing recipe for an old-school dessert that’s still one of my favorites. Served on many family Sunday dinner tables, it was simply called “strawberry dessert.” I loved (and still do) the pecan-filled shortbread-type crust, creamy filling and thick layer of strawberries on top.
Today, you’ll find it listed as blueberry delight (you can use either fruit flavor), yum-yum dessert and other cute names. Cans of pie filling are often used for the topping instead of a homemade fruit topping. Whatever you call it, it translates well to modern-day dessert tables and is just as good as I remembered.
Now, if only I can find those frozen jelly doughnuts…Welch’s, if you’re listening...
2 sticks butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups all-purpose flour
Mix together and press into 9x11-inch Pyrex dish. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool.
8-ounce cream cheese
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 packages Dream Whip-follow package directions (can substitute Cool Whip if you want)
Mix cream cheese and sugar. Fold into Dream Whip. Spread over crust
2-15.5 ounce containers of frozen slice strawberries with sugar, thawed
½ cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
Mix together and cook slightly over low heat until thick. Cool and spread on frosting. Chill before serving.
Note: Strawberry, blueberry or cherry pie filling may be used for topping.
Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer from Mississippi. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.