Metro Morning

Food columnist says we're suckers for food fads — and restaurateurs are cashing in

We line up for hours to get our hands on the latest food items not because we can't wait to eat them but because 'we're suckers,' said food columnist Cory Mintz on CBC's Metro Morning Monday.

Toronto food writer Cory Mintz says people often value image over taste

Ice cream shop iHalo krunch on Queen Street West became an Instagram sensation with their colourful ube and charcoal soft-serve cones. (INSTAGRAM/ihalokrunch)

We line up for hours to get our hands on the latest, most instagrammable food items not because we can't wait to eat them, but because "we're suckers," said food columnist Cory Mintz on CBC's Metro Morning on Monday. 

And restaurateurs know this. 

"It's a baked-in part of the experience," Mintz said as he recalled a conversation with a Toronto chef about the evolution of the expression 'you eat with your eyes first.'

"He told me he doesn't plan any of his businesses without conceiving some part that's intended to be photographed," said Mintz.

Anything to get you snapping. 

"It could be with a dish or with the architecture [of the space,]" said Mintz. "It's a built-in marketing device for his restaurants." 

There's are even trends within the trend of taking photos of food.

For example, "bounty, dishes that overflow, resulting in stuff that drips," said Mintz, referencing the current vogue of ice cream that drips onto the customer's hands as they grip a cinnamon-sugary, ultra-messy churro cone.

"No one likes to have ice cream all over their hands but they do it for the photo." 

Fads v. Trends

Ink-coloured charcoal ice cream is the latest food fad taking Toronto by storm — though it won't be king for long. 

Mintz says it's important to distinguish between food fads and food trends, because the latter can actually do some good. 

"The fads are the Unicorn Frappuccino, the charcoal ice cream, rainbow grilled cheese, rainbow bagels," he explained — prime examples of image being valued over taste.  

Trends, on the other hand, "can change how we do things, start conversations around labour conditions or get people shopping two times a week for fresh groceries instead of just one," said Mintz. 

#uglydelicious​

Mintz said he hopes the next trend is to appreciate humble eats that get back to the essence of taste and nourishment. 

"I take photos of food because I am a food writer, but I also like food that's not beautiful and meant just to be photographed," he said. 

He encourages people to take a look at the 'ugly delicious' hashtag started by chef David Chang of the Momofuku empire.

There you'll see anaemic-looking, splattered, and simple plates of food, celebrated for being satisfying and tasty, if not beautiful.

Because ugly food needs love too.