Our dreams of self-sufficiency were further fed by the craze for turning kitchen scraps into crops — even if only on a very small scale. PICTURE: Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post.
Our dreams of self-sufficiency were further fed by the craze for turning kitchen scraps into crops — even if only on a very small scale. PICTURE: Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post.

These 10 food trends were the distractions we needed in 2020

By The Washington Post Time of article published Jan 4, 2021

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By Emily Heil

This year, many of us spent a lot more time in our kitchens than we could have imagined, turning out multiple meals a day and sometimes getting bored with our own rinse-and-repeat repertoires.

We were also cut off from our usual communities and seeking connections. And it turns out that bored cooks plus isolation is a recipe for . . . lots and lots of food trends, which bloomed on our screens this year like a thousand flowers.

Each of the everybody's-making-it dishes that popped up this year spoke to our hungers - for sustenance, maybe, for comfort, for inspiration, or just for novelty. Even if we didn't join in for all of them, just watching was a good distraction.

Here are 10 things that fed us — or at least populated our social media feeds— in 2020.

Dalgona coffee

The dalgona coffee trend is a whipped three-ingredient coffee topping that became viral on social media where people were seen taking on the dalgona coffee challenge and posting their creations. Picture from Instagram

Many of us have given up regular visits to our favourite barista, and so dalgona coffee, a South Korean drink in which instant coffee, sugar and milk are whipped into a foamy blend, was a (super-sweet) stand-in for our coffee-shop fix.

Cloud bread

Have you heard of cloud bread? Well, it’s all over TikTok. Picture: Supplied

This airy, meringue-like concoction, made from egg whites, cornstarch, and sugar, became a TikTok darling this summer. It's relatively tasteless, but its popularity probably can be chalked up to its ease of preparation — and that weirdly satisfying moment when people tear into them on camera.

Charcuterie chalets

The Christmas season is fast approaching, and with it comes a surprising trend - building charcuterie chalets that replace gingerbread houses. Picture from Instagram

Move over, gingerbread. This year, we fashioned abodes shingled with salami, sided with breadsticks and decorated with almonds. Maybe it's because many of us have been housebound this year that we created odes to our too-familiar surroundings in a meaty medium?


Organic sourdough from Green Origins baked by Penny Siefert.

Sourdough baking, like binging Tiger King, was a very early-pandemic vibe, fuelled by yeast shortages and an excess of time at home. People nurtured their starters as if they were particularly needy children, traded recipes for their cast-off dough, and photographed the pillowy interiors and artfully slashed crusts like proud parents.

Carrot bacon

Carrot bacon. Picture: Supplied

These seasoned, crunchy strips of root vegetable became one of the few non-carb breakout food stars of the pandemic after vegan chef Tabitha Brown's TikTok recipe got 3.6 million views. Bonus trend points: They're crisped in an air fryer, the pandemic cook's favourite kitchen appliance.


Pickled peppers.

There's something reassuring about having rows of gleaming jars of food you've harvested and "put up" for the long winter. That might be a #cottagecore fantasy for most of us, but enough people bought into it this year that retailers sold out of jars and lids.

Windowsill scallions

Our dreams of self-sufficiency were further fed by the craze for turning kitchen scraps into crops — even if only on a very small scale. Beyond offering a boost to a salad (or just a way to entertain a cooped-up kid), those little green sprouts might have been the glimmer of hope we needed.

Fancy focaccia

This heart-shaped bread with bouquet of “flowers” is a fine example of the Vineyard Baker’s (@vineyardbaker) creative focaccia.

Dough became the canvas for legions of newly minted flatbread artists, who took to the trend of studding loafs with baked-in designs for edible masterpieces (Van Gogh never had it so good). Floral motifs were the most popular, with herbs and vegetables forming intricate blooms.

Pancake cereal

Fancy a bowl of pancake cereal for breakfast? Picture: Instagram.

Tiny pancakes piled in a bowl and drenched in syrup sounds like a breakfast that only Buddy the Elf would love.

But plenty of TikTokers joined in, apparently wooed by the combination of cuteness (miniature foods are a whole genre online) and the perennial popularity of cereal, and the platform dubbed the mash-up its top food trend of 2020.

Frog bread

The lockdown has brought about a new trend. It involves making bread in the shape of a frog. Picture from Instagram

Edible, lumpy amphibians with googly eyes were the antidote to the precise and lovely ethos of the #breadart trend that we didn't know we needed. Bakers delighted in their imperfect creations, sharing photos of their goofy, cartoonish bakes — along with some badly needed joy.

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