Browsing Category

Food trends

Food trends




As he hunted for pepper and other spices, Christopher Columbus, who had left Palos de la Frontera to “buscar el levante por el poniente” (seek the East by way of the West) in 1492, discovered America and, along with dozens of other products unknown to Europeans, the chili pepper.
When the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria dropped anchor in San Salvador, the Native Americans had known the spicy fruit for at least 7,000 years. Oppositely, chili peppers were still unknown in the Old Continent: people used pepper, a gift of the gods, known since the dawn of time both as a condiment and as a preservative and medicine.
Upon returning from his second journey (in 1493), Columbus brought back chili peppers as a gift to the kings of Spain, who set to achieve considerable income through the sale of this new spice, appreciated by the aristocratic palates. But the monarchs hadn’t considered the popular and democratic nature of the chili plant itself. The ‘Indian pepper’ soon found a place in the old Europe: only 70 years after its arrival in Spain, botanist Andrea Mattioli spoke of it as “a rather common plant”.
In the 1500s there still was disagreement on how to name the fruit. The common denominator was always pepper: ‘Indian pepper’, ‘horned pepper’, ‘Maluku island pepper’. In the 1600s, the pool of names reached a standardization: pepper, bell pepper, chili pepper. In the 1700s, Linnaeus assigned a binomial nomenclature to it: Capiscum annuum. Capiscum derives from the Latin word capsa, meaning ‘box’ (of seeds).

Today there are over 3,000 chili pepper types grown all around the world. Among the most famous (and hottest), there are the cayenne, the habanero, and the red savina. Paprika, delicatesse, and serrano are instead among milder peppers. Chili pepper from Calabria is excellent, and offers its taste and spiciness to ‘nduja, a local cured sausage. The hottest pepper in the world is the Carolina Reaper. It is named after the US state of Carolina, and ‘reaper’ due to its shocking spiciness. According to the Guinness Book of Records it is the strongest pepper in the world in terms of capsaicinoid content – capsaicinoids are the alkaloids giving the food its burning and spicy effect. Given it must be handled with care, chili pepper is good for the health. Doctors and university researchers agree that it prevents cardiovascular diseases, purifies the blood, and is useful to fight obesity, depression, and alcohol addiction; it has decongestant and anti-inflammatory properties, helps digest, and protects the liver. According to Giulio Tarro, a world-class virologist, its antioxidant and immunostimulant vitamin and capsaicin content prevents the formation of tumors.

In Italian cuisine, the ‘peperoncino’ stars in legendary dishes: ‘spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino’ (garlic, olive oil, and chili pepper spaghetti), ‘penne all’arrabbiata’ (with tomato sauce and dried chilies), ‘spaghetti alla puttanesca’ (with tomato sauce, olives, capers, anchovies, and chilies), and ‘pollo alla diavola’ (chicken with spicy tomato sauce).

Food trends




According to the results of research undertaken by the eCommerce B2C Observatory, set up by the Polytechnic of Milan in partnership with Netcomm, food delivery services were the number one sector on the Italian online market in 2019, worth €566 million.

To be precise, this industry will end 2019 with an estimated growth of approximately 56% compared to 2018; and food delivery services are operating in 93% of Italian cities with over 50,000 residents, 19% more than the figure recorded in 2018.

Before analysing the areas where food delivery services are more widespread, we should first mention a figure that helps us grasp the power of this phenomenon: in 2019, 47% of Italians had access to online food services, i.e. 14% more than the previous year.

Not surprisingly, the Italian city where ordering food online for home delivery is most popular is Milan. Rome comes second, while Turin is in third place.

According to the figures published by the eCommerce B2C Observatory set up by the Polytechnic of Milan and Netcomm, the most popular dishes ordered through food delivery services in 2019 were the following:


2-ice cream



5-wok dishes

A fascinating statistic that goes some way to explaining the food delivery boom was published on the SEMrush platform: Internet search engines recorded four times as many searches for ‘eating at home’ than searches for ‘eating out’.

SEMrush also revealed the services that Italians prefer (in descending order): the top food delivery service is Just Eat with an average of 555,000 searches per month, followed by Deliveroo with 142,500, Glovo and Uber Eats.

Food trends




A short existence, a very strong scent, a mysterious form of reproduction: most of the attraction of the Alba white truffle revolves around these three enigmas, which science is attempting to solve. Let alone that this product lives underground (it is a hypogeus fungus) and it turns to a diamond worthy of the stock market due to its price: it is, indeed, an unmissable ingredient in the recipes of numerous Michelin-starred chefs.

A few months ago, the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution has published the results of a research project leading to the full gene mapping of the Tuber magnatum Pico, namely the white truffle of Alba. By reading its DNA, the genetic foundations of the fungus have been revealed.

The white truffle of Alba lives underground for a short period of time – about a month and a half – and despite an infinite number of efforts it cannot be farmed. It requires a certain humidity level, and its quality greatly depends upon the health of the plants it lives a symbiotic relationship with. It has no flowers, nor plants sprouting on its outside: it is deprived of pollination. So how can it scatter its spores and not go extinct? In a few hundred thousand years of history, the truffle has developed its distinguishing scent, which is irresistible to forest animals – snails, wild boars – and dogs, which dig and unearth it. This is how the precious diamond of Alba ends up in our dishes. But before doing so, its spores have flown in every which way. And its story can go on.

The Borsino di Alba (the ‘little Alba stock exchange’) establishes prices for high-quality, wellpreserved samples weighing between 20 and 30 grams (about 0.7-1.0 oz). In 2019, the average value recorded was 350 euros per 100 g (3.5 oz), far from the values recorded in 2012 (500 euros) and 2017 (450 euros). What influences its price is of course demand, along with a crucial variable: climate. Truffle hunting is done at night, with dogs: there is no such thing as a private hunting ground; it all takes place in the woods and spontaneous truffle grounds. It starts in October, and ends in January, with strictly traditional methods. In Piedmont alone, there are 4,000 truffle-hunters (known as trifulau), who must own a license upon having passed a specific exam.

It is hard, if not impossible, to estimate the worth of ‘trufflenomics’ in Italy, while at the international level, its turnover is estimated to be just below 5 billion euros.

Food trends




So many people speak of food that makes you happy, lifts the spirits, and blows negative thoughts away. But just how can a simple dish alleviate pain and restore harmony? What is the secret behind these formulas for happiness and what lies beneath the concept of comfort food?

Origins and a dash of history
The Oxford English Dictionary claims that the term ‘comfort food’ was first used in 1977, when a Washington Post article used it to describe a traditional South American dish: prawns with corn porridge. Historian Lynne Oliver, on the other hand, is sure that the expression was used even before, and more specifically in 1965, also in the United States.
Regardless of the specific date and occasion on which the expression was coined, the word has – ever since its origins – a quite subjective value, and always related to an individual’s spiritual sphere. Comfort food is linked to happy or nostalgic memories: there is only a handful of other things able to project us in the lives of others, through private accounts related to childhood or our loved ones. This is why the choice of food varies completely from person to person, region to region, country to country. Whichever our personal history is, our food of happiness conceals an intimate selection, based upon many different, and at times surprising, motivations and reasonings.

10 comfort foods from around the world

France: onion soup
Japan: ramen
Great Britain: fish & chips
Italy: lasagne
Germany: bratwurst
Morocco: shakshuka
Hungary: goulash
Ukraine: borscht
Greece: moussaka
Cuba: picadillo

Food trends




There are a number of myths to debunk concerning rosé wine. First of all, you must know it is not a mix of white and red grapes, but can only be produced through soft pressing of red grapes with an immediate separation of the pomace, or through a short maceration process lasting a few minutes up to 24 hours. Consumption in Italy is still low – although the trend is on the rise – but the amount exported is very high. We shall now present to you a selection of the best Italian rosés, spanning the peninsula from North to South.


Our journey down the Boot starts in the North. The most suitable areas are ones with a cool weather and a morainic soil. Wines made here are sapid, fresh, have a high minerality and a good acidity. Examples are the Chiaretto di Bardolino – produced in the Lake Garda area – and the Lagrein, produced in South Tyrol. Halfway, in the province of Treviso, a rare, very aromatic wine obtained by processing native pink-skinned grapes is produced: the Manzoni Rosa.


In Central Italy, climate conditions and soil quality change: wines are more full-bodied. The dominating vines of the area are the Sangiovese – giving life to a number of Tuscan rosés – and the Montepulciano – the basis of the Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, an excellent rosé with good body, tannin content, and acidity.


The journey through Italian rosés ends with the warmth of the South and its full-bodied, rich wines, often made in volcanic areas. These include the great rosés of the Apulia region, the Cirò of Calabria, and the Etna Rosato, made from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio grapes. Fun fact: the firstever Italian rosé was bottled in Salice Salentino (Lecce, Apulia) in 1943, for the Allied Forces. This was how the Five Roses, produced by winemaker Leone De Castris, was born, by anglicizing the name ‘Cinque Rose’ and using recycled beer bottles. Today, the Five Roses – whose English name was maintained – is still one of the top Italian rosés.

Food trends




It is well-known that tourists have always been in love with Italian food and wine, but the fact that the latter are fundamental elements in planning a trip to Italy is a phenomenon that we have only began to observe in the past few years.

According to the “First Report on Italian Food and Wine Tourism” – drafted by Roberta Garibaldi under the scientific supervision of the World Food Travel Association and the University of Bergamo – Italy offers 825 Protected Geographical Indication products, 5056 traditional agri-food products, close to 335 thousand food service businesses, over 23 thousand farm stays, 114 themebased museums related to food, and 173 “strade del vino e dei sapori” (roads of wine and tastes) to tourists from all around the world. As well as enjoying typical products, most popular activities include market exploration (82%), the search for historic cafés and restaurants (72%), as well as visits to farms (62%) and wine cellars (56%).

Tourists seek to find local products, listen to the stories behind them, meet their producers, and of course taste them. Markets are excellent places to get to know a city and area: they narrate their most authentic soul through the colours, scents, crowds, and of course the products.
Some have preserved their historic structure, like the Pignasecca in Naples, the Ballarò in Palermo, or the Rialto in Venice. Others have evolved through new features, including cooking lessons, new dishes, events and tastings, and even cutting-edge architectures. In 2014, in a historic building made of clad iron and glass designed by Giuseppe Mengoni, the Mercato Centrale (central market) opened in Florence. At the ground floor, it features the traditional butcheries, fish stores, fruit and vegetable stands, and little shops selling local specialties. The top floor has instead been completely renewed and re-opened with a designer’s touch, boasting 500 seats and a host of opportunities, including 12 shops, a space dedicated to the Chianti Classico consortium, a restaurant, a pizzeria, a pub, a café, a cooking school, a wine-tasting school, and a bookshop. Given its great success, the Florence format has been duplicated at the Central Market in Termini train station, Rome, in 2016, and at Porta Palazzo, Turin, in 2019, with the Milan central station venue soon following.
The MOG (Genoa oriental market) also opened in 2019. It includes 11 street food stands focused on local tradition, as well as a café, a wine shop, a cooking school, and a bread-making school at the top floor (about 2,000 m2 – over 21,500 ft2 in total), with the traditional market stands remaining at the ground floor.

Food trends




There are only few ingredients able to give dishes flavour and personality so intensely. Let us introduce you to bottarga, the Mediterranean caviar.


Its origins are incredibly ancient: in fact, it was the Phoenicians who – almost 3 thousand years ago – first brought this precious and rare specialty to the Mediterranean Sea. The translation of batārikh, the Arab name for bottarga, is literally ‘dried fish eggs’. Indeed, bottarga is made by drying, then salting, mullet or tuna roe.

Tuna and mullet: differences

From a tuna, you may obtain a 1 kg-plus (2.2 lbs.-plus) egg sac, whilst as for mullet, the sac may weigh between 200 and 500 grams (0.4-1.1 lbs.).

The two specialties are processed in different ways. The mullet egg sac is stored in a dry and ventilated area, where it is sprinkled with medium/fine grain sea salt; the product is laid on a horizontal plane and turned periodically, repeating the salting process for a number of days. The duration of such phase varies depending on the sac weight, and is necessary to eliminate the liquid component within the sac. For tuna bottarga, instead, the first phase after washing is pressing by means of weights, in order to eliminate the liquid content of the sac; this process lasts 2 to 4 days, and is followed by salting, then a second 8-10 day pressing phase, once again with a constant replacement of the salt. The final processing phase is drying. The bottarga is hung and left to dry and age: 30-40 days for tuna bottarga, and 45-90 days for mullet bottarga, although the time may vary depending on the humidity and temperature conditions of the processing laboratory.

Where is bottarga made?

Although similar preparations exist in Spain, Greece, France, and the Middle East, the most important areas for bottarga production are the two main Italian islands: Sardinia and Sicily.

Food trends




Loved all around the world, and an irreplaceable element in numerous well-know cocktails – Manhattan and Negroni above all – vermouth, with its 100% Italian origins, is living a second youth. Paired or unpaired, straight or mixed, and even used in cooking, the liquor – with the mysterious attraction of its history – is touching the hearts of young drinkers.

What is vermouth

Vermouth is an aromatised wine with an alcohol content between 16 and 22%. It must contain at least 75% aromatised and sweetened white wine. The mix of herbs used to flavour it must include wormwood, which is its distinguishing element. Other main herbs it contains are mint, marjoram, chamomile, thyme, coriander, blessed thistle, sage, hyssop, lemon balm, anise, and dittany.


In Grande libro del Vermouth e dei liquori italiani (big book of vermouth and Italian liquors) by Giustino Ballato, the origin of vermouth is attributed to distiller Antonio Benedetto Carpano, who drafted the first-ever recipe in 1786 in his small cellar facing Palazzo Reale (the royal palace) in Turin. Carpano chose this name because wermuth is the German term for Artemisia absinthium (wormwood). The correct term in Italian – according to Ballato – is vérmut, but the elegant French word vermouth was preferred, even though – he adds – flipping through historical texts and ancient labels one can bump into the Piedmontese term vèrmot or the Tuscan term vermutte, or even vermuth, warmouth, and wermut.

Vermouth today

Vermouth has undergone a successful relaunch operation. The trend is not restricted to Italy, but it involves the global market too, with a 3% annual growth expected until 2021. In 2018 the Istituto del Vermouth (vermouth institute) was born in Turin, with the aim to safeguard the drink’s history and PGI recognition. But the Italian liqueur is not only Made in Piedmont: there are excellent producers in the Emilia-Romagna, Apulia, and Sicily regions as well.

Food trends



Obtained by cooking pork leg, prosciutto cotto (“cooked ham”) is the cold cut Italians love most: according to data collected by Assica (Italian association of meat and cold cut processors), in 2017 a total of 270 metric tonnes have been consumed, namely 4.5 kg (9.9 lbs.) per capita. There are 3 factors determining this: children have a sweet tooth for it, it has an accessible cost and – compared to other cold cuts – it is perceived as healthy.

After the slaughtering phase, the pork legs are deboned and defatted. Successively, brine made of water, salt, and flavourings is injected into the meat. The leg is then ‘massaged’ to make the penetration of the brine as homogenous as possible. At this point the ham undergoes the cooking phase – the process that affects the flavour and shelf life of the final product.

There are different categories of prosciutto cotto. Its quality indicator is the percentage of humidity, which depends on the quantity of water added to the brine along with the massaging method and cooking system. In ‘simple’ prosciutto cotto, the rate of humidity will be less than or equal to 82%; in scelto (‘choice’) prosciutto cotto, the maximum humidity is 79.5%; and in the alta qualità (‘high quality’) version, the humidity can be no greater than 76.5%.

Homemade prosciutto cotto
Considered the little brother of the better-known prosciutto crudo (“raw ham”), the prosciutto cotto – when of a high quality and processed by hand using selected and accurately cured pork legs – reaches incredibly high quality levels and holds its own against Parma or San Daniele ham.

Food trends




The meat of a newly butchered animal is usually hard and not very tasty. Aging is that variable period during which meat is left to rest at the suitable temperature and humidity conditions to gain softness and develop flavours and aroma. A chicken or a very young animal only requires a few days, but for larger animals it all depends on race, age, and meat storage temperature. A regular steak preserved in a cold store – that maintains the right temperature and humidity – takes 10 to 20 days to reach the supermarket shelves.

The new trend in meat aging has a name: dry-aging. It is an innovative technique that has spread in no time from the United States to the rest of the world. It is complex and costly, but quite appreciated by gourmands. It is essentially a form of bone-in aging and subsequent seasoning in cold store at a controlled temperature. The process triggers natural meat drying cycles, allowing it to lose about 20% water, with a related increase in salt concentration. Such method causes physical-chemical changes in the meat, first of all the oxidation of fatty acids and enzymatic lysis that releases aromatic amino acids. The meat thus acquires excellent sensory properties, is more flavoured, soft, and with a beautiful marbled look. Its cut colour is dark red, and it has a compact texture. Once cooked, it exudes incredible perfumes: experts suggest to prepare it on a grill, lightly seared.

The so-called wet-aging technique is also used worldwide, with small pieces of meat left to age in their own juices, vacuumpacked. The third method, experimented for the first time ever in Italy by Eataly’s Consorzio La Granda, is high-humidity aging, in cold stores kept at a constant temperature of 0-1°C (32-33.8°F).

Food trends




From an intersection of opinions from analysts, trade magazines, research institutes and catering service companies such as Doxa, Waitrose, Gambero Rosso, Whole Foods, Deliveroo, TheFork, Kroger and Kind, here are the eating trends expected for 2019:

1- Delivery only restaurants
Not just pizza and sushi but a whole new way of eating at home and, above all, a whole new form of catering: an increasing number of laboratories are dedicated to preparing dishes aimed solely for home delivery, as well as specialized chefs and refined conservation techniques. Because those customers who can afford it – a group that is growing clearly – demand restaurant-quality food in the comfort of their own homes.

2- African cuisine
After the boom of Peru’s Nikkei specialties, the spicy tastes of the Middle East and Korea’s fermentations, our world tour leads us to western Africa, to the decisive flavours and exotic fascination of Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and Mali.

3- Healthy eating app
A balanced, personalised diet at the touch of an App allowing you to follow a healthy, varied eating regime despite today’s frenetic lifestyle. The way is paved for start-ups proposing practical, intelligent solutions.

4- Fake meat
The fashion for healthy living is on an exponential up: the dish of the year is “fake meat”, becoming extremely popular in the United States. It looks, feels and tastes just like real meat, though it contains no animal derivatives at all; in fact, it is completely vegetable-based.

5- Dragonfruit
The so-called functional ingredients – highly beneficial for our organisms – have been introduced to the menus in many restaurants. 2019 will be the year of the dragonfruit (otherwise known as the pitaya): a tropical fruit with low-calorie flesh but rich in vitamins and hempseed.

Food trends




Turmeric is the superfood of the moment: just think that in the past 5 years, Google searches concerning the Indian root have grown by 75%. It is mainly its therapeutic properties that make it so popular: turmeric is in fact antioxidant and anti-inflammatory; it strengthens the immune system, facilitates digestion and – according to research by the University of California published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry in 2018 – it also may prevent memory loss.

We do not always know how to use it as a cooking ingredient though. Is it better to use fresh turmeric or dried turmeric powder? In tea or chopped and eaten? “It is important to know the related chemistry and the cooking techniques to benefit of its truly useful nutritional strengths”, explains Fern Green, a food-stylist and chef, author of Curcuma. La Bibbia (Turmeric: the bible), a book including 65 creative recipes involving the Indian root. Green states that turmeric is perfect when paired with foods rich in quercetin (peppers, onions, and capers), a substance that boosts its beneficial effects. She also recommends: add a half-teaspoon of the root in its powder version when sautéing. Or try it with golden milks – the drinks used in Ayurveda treatments, based on oils and butters (cocoa, cashews, oat or almond milk) – flavouring them using turmeric powder. Use it fresh in hot water, instead, when preparing detox tea. Keep an eye on time though: do not soak it for over 15 minutes, as the heat may subsequently spoil the root. Want a last word of advice? In savoury recipes, always add a pinch of black pepper: it will facilitate the body’s absorption of the turmeric.

Food trends




According to Francesco Morace, social scientist at Future Concept Lab, the kitchen is where the unexpected encounter between digital exposure and conviviality, customization and participation occurs. In fact, the burners are where an extension of the concept of recognition – that the new generations consider the fulcrum of their personal and social identity – comes into existence.

According to the sociologist, in the future the idea of domestic space will transform: kitchens will dominate and extend to the living room, finding new expression on specific “island” tables made for in-house cooking demos. The kitchen-living room will thus become the true center of the home.

This type of kitchen will be one of the new frontiers in the concept of family and home experimentation, which must be closely followed in the coming years. A multi-tech, user-friendly experience lived in the place where meals are prepared and enjoyed, just as if on a stage or a film set.

Morace states that all this will add to a renewed and enjoyable interaction with the domestic dimension – also in terms of retail – which may become the ideal location to freely express kinship and use cooking with an expansive philosophy, free of space or time boundaries. This special sensitivity will create a unique bond, distinguished by curiosity and communication: feelings of closeness and precise rituals, which will be shared online without interruption. “We need to believe in the future”, concludes Francesco Morace, “An increased awareness of the high-tech will continue to emerge, also in the high-touch form – the more haptic and human dimension. A binomial made of innovation and tradition that will find its limelight and its language in the food context”.

Food trends




Italy is on the way to becoming the Food Truck capital. According to data analysed by Unioncamere on new registered businesses, every two days throughout the nation a new travelling catering firm is set up. On 31st March 2018 there were 2,729 such businesses: on the road you can encounter a prosperous universe linked to the preparation of street food with a particular presence of under-35s and foreign entrepreneurs. Six hundred businesses have been set up by young entrepreneurs born after 1983, representing 22% of the total. And 327 businesses are run by foreigners.

But what today are Food Trucks in Italy?

They are forms of transport (mainly Ape vehicles, but also caravans and vintage vans) equipped with full kitchens, refined and furnished with care, customised in shape and colour with one eye focussing on gourmet food and the other on design and communication – especially via social media.

What’s on offer?

Just a few years ago, the list of dishes on offer on the street in Italy was made up of the typical traditional foods of each local area; today Food Trucks have vastly expanded the variety of the dishes on offer. As well as revisitations of tradition street foods, they also propose street versions of traditional restaurant cuisine (from pret-a-porter Milanese risotto to cupcake-shaped lasagne and fried tortellini on a stick) and original and surprising gourmet innovations.

In which Italian region can we find the most Food Trucks?

By region, Lombardy ranks first with 389 businesses, followed by Puglia with 295 and Lazio with 271.