Our local weekly runs its own version of Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionaire called “10 Questions.” A local someone – from our county’s stash of entrepreneurs, designers, nonprofit program directors, and big-wave surfers – is asked about his or her work, dream job, hobbies, current reading, pet peeves, favorite streets, the most important thing learned in the past three years – and the one that catches my eye, every time – recent personal food trend. Here’s a sampling from the recent issues:

1. I’ve been making an orange creme shake with fresh nut milk, oranges, local honey, and vanilla.

2. More beer and veggies, less meat.

3. Seafood prepared in new ways.

4. I recently gave up alcohol and I feel great! Ceviche tostadas at El Palomar by the Harbor.

5. Eating gluten-free. I’ve just discovered I have a gluten intolerance, which for a pastry chef is a pretty cruel twist of fate!

6. I have two things that I am taking daily which help my performance surfing and my health. Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega-D3 supports a healthy heart, immune system, mood joints, and metabolism. Also, Ex Pure Energy Drinks keep my pumped throughout the day. Powerful natural ingredients are the answer to my demanding daily schedule.

7. I can’t wait until my Food What!? CSA bag arrives in the spring, love crisp Fuji apples, and my latest find—San Felipe Fish Tacos from the Harbor Cafe.

8. Coulotte steaks from PLBar Ranch. After the movie Food, Inc., I won’t eat meat if I don’t know the farmer.

9. Last night I warmed up a glazed donut and put crispy bacon bits and a little maple syrup on top. Wasn’t bad, but I don’t think it’s going to be a trend for me.

Then I did an unofficial Facebook poll. This is what I got back:

10. Pasta!

11. arugula, lemon, asparagus, roasted anything

Add to that list my own recent personal food trend:

12. Rotisserie chicken, Tapatio hot sauce, Dagoba xocolatl chili chocolate, and jasmine tea. Not together.

I wondered how much this small sampling what the pundits identify as food trends for this year. Turning to Google  (I’m sorry, public library, I really am) for a food trends 2010 search:

  • The Daily Beast names dark chocolate, gluten-free, coconut, exotic citrus, nostalgic comfort foods, pickled anything, smoked fish, bacon sweets, tricked-out popcorn, and spicy snacks.
  • Epicurious cites fried chicken, mini whoopie pies, lamb, an immunity-building diet, homemade beer, and butchering.
  • The Food Channel’s list doesn’t talk about specific items, focusing instead on trends like experimentation, sustainability, individuality, and defining an ethnic-American cuisine.
  • The Supermarket Guru sees private label branding, knowing where your food comes from, the return if iconic ’60’s food items, real foods and food ingredients.
  • The last list I’ll include is from Restaurants and Institutions Magazine and includes: Asian+Latin fusion, beer, pot roast, lamb, smoked foods, more eggs and less bacon, meatless meals, tea, deep-fried, gluten-free, and DIY pickling and butchering.

There are matches everywhere on my list – with food items like bacon sweets and tea and dark chocolate as well as with ideas like eating gluten-free, knowing where your food comes from, and eating to support wellness. The converse is also interesting – to see how many of the named trends from more than one list, like pickled foods, smoked foods, fried foods, nostalgic foods, and lamb – didn’t show up on any of my lists.

I was starting to think about how our palates change and what food trends might be for next year but then stopped and wondered – at what point are trends recycled, and how many represent something entirely new? And exactly how much farther can we go, foodie-wise? I’m thinking of an article I read recently that talks about Arthur Danto’s theory of the end of art. In 1995 he argued that all styles of art are now equally available with nothing technically left to be achieved, citing the end of the history of art, and from now on, it was all art for art’s sake. It would be interesting to extrapolate on this idea to talk about food. We’ve always had comfort food and our cultural dishes, now we’ve got the fusion of different cuisines and molecular gastronomy. Do you see a time when there’s nothing technically left to uncover except the appeal of creating, or recreating, a perfectly satisfying meal?