Photo: Kimtaro, Flickr
2001: Black Truffle Oil
Black truffle oil was a relative newcomer back in 2001, when white truffle oil was still the reigning indicator of luxury. The subject of a January 2001 article in Bon Appetit, home cooks were soon wild for the intensely fragrant oil, which was stirred into risottos, poured over popcorn and served on ice cream.
Fat didn't seem so scary in the wake of 9/11, when all eaters wanted were dishes that felt like warm hugs. That meant rice pudding, creamed spinach, seafood bisques and just about anything that called for lots and lots of butter. Nothing said 2002 like a plate of fettuccine Alfredo served with a slab of heavily buttered bread.
2003: Green tea
Green tea wasn't just good enough to drink. In 2003, it was added to dish-washing detergent and hand soaps. But, as Restaurant Business noted that year, "it is the tea's presence on the plate that is quickly gaining steam... Its delicate taste makes it an excellent choice for ethnic dishes and desserts." Diners apparently liked the flavor – and that research showed the stuff could reduce blood sugar and increase metabolism.
2004: Low-Carb Everything
Avert your eyes, bagel makers! Best not to think back on those painful years when an astounding number of Americans were eschewing anything with a trace of wheat. Ingredient makers purged carbs from their products in deference to the 3 percent of the population following an Atkins-style diet. And when they couldn't get rid of the carbs, they improvised: Hardee's actually offered a burger wrapped in lettuce.
2005: Local Food
Amazingly, local food was still in its infancy in 2005, a full year before Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" would appear in bookstores. But in 2005, when the word "locavore" was coined, savvy eaters were already demanding meat, eggs, cheese and vegetables grown close to home -- talk of local wheat, coffee and chocolate would come later.
The quintessential superfood became super-popular in 2006, when Heaven Hill first issued Pama pomegranate liqueur, Starbucks introduced a pomegranate frappuccino and Odwalla launched its PomaGrand brand. According to the Boston Globe, Dunkin' Donuts had hoped to cash in on the craze with a smoothie, but feared demand would outstrip the supply of pomegranates.
2007: Whole Hog
Foodies, suddenly infatuated with offal, began eating high and low on the hog in 2007. But the part they liked best was the belly, commonly known as bacon. It showed up in ice cream, candy bars and bubblegum. But the craze reached its zenith the following year with the much-discussed Bacon Explosion, featuring bacon-wrapped bacon.
Americans' tolerance for spicy food grew over the last decade, and the heat they liked best came Sriracha chili sauce, which – as the New York Times recently pointed out -- now appears on the menus at Applebee's and P.F. Chang's. The sauce was so trendy in 2008 that Philadelphia's Beauty Shop Cafe impishly added a Sriracha latte to its menu.
Apple martinis are so 2006. With classic cocktails at the apex of most self-respecting bar scenes, mixologists are snapping up ye olde ingredients, including fresh fruit, rye whiskey and bitters.