Suppose we would publish a recipe that would include instructions such as “Coat cubes of pork meat with curry and microwave these for 2 minutes”, and “Combine oil, chilli, garlic and onion, heat for 1 minute on 100% power, add chicken stock, soy sauce and corn starch, stir and heat for 2 minutes on 50%”, you would of course think you are back in the 1980’s.
It’s fascinating that what we buy, the way we prepare it, and even how we serve and eat it, is constantly changing. Just look at the pictures in a 1950’s cookbook and try not to smile. Impossible.
Knowing that our culinary habits are constantly changing is one thing, understanding why they change is much more complex.
A great example of a supplier influencing their customers is a magazine called Allerhande, published by leading Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn. The magazine, first published in 1954, is not your ordinary flyer with an overview of discounted articles, it’s a reflection of culinary trends (linked of course to what’s available in the supermarket) and trends in society with a focus on the individual.
Dutch author Klaartje Scheepers was brave enough to read all issues since 1954 and in her excellent book Van Aardappel tot Avocado (available in Dutch only) she describes how closely food is linked to our daily life and the world we live in. She writes about the 1950’s housewife struggling to keep her family happy and well-fed, about the introduction of the tv-dinner, about nutrition, the need to have a refrigerator, a blender, a microwave, an electric tin opener, about how we started to embrace dishes from other countries, including something odd called pizza, about diets and of course, about how supermarkets are closely monitoring these developments.
Reading Van Aardappel tot Avocado is a pleasure, not only because of the interesting insights, but also because it helps you recognize today’s trends. And of course it’s also a fun trip down memory lane. Highly recommended!
Why not sit back, take a sip of wine and wonder how your Seasonal menu is influenced by your local supermarket, by well-known chefs, culinary influencers and blogs. What made you decide? Availability? Recipe on the internet? Price? Friends? As seen on Youtube?
Interesting, isn’t it?