This year, many of us spent a lot more time in our kitchens than we could have imagined, turning out multiple meals a day and sometimes getting bored with our own rinse-and-repeat repertoires. We were also cut off from our usual communities and seeking connections. And it turns out that bored cooks plus isolation is a recipe for … lots and lots of food trends, which bloomed on our screens this year like a thousand flowers.
Each of the everybody’s-making-it dishes that popped up this year spoke to our hungers — for sustenance, maybe, for comfort, for inspiration, or just for novelty. Even if we didn’t join in for all of them, just watching was a good distraction.
Here are 10 things that fed us — or at least populated our social media feeds — in 2020.
Many of us have given up regular visits to our favorite barista, and so dalgona coffee, a South Korean drink in which instant coffee, sugar and milk are whipped into a foamy blend, was a (super-sweet) stand-in for our coffee-shop fix.
This airy, meringue-like concoction, made from egg whites, cornstarch and sugar, became a TikTok darling this summer. It’s relatively tasteless, but its popularity probably can be chalked up to its ease of preparation — and that weirdly satisfying moment when people tear into them on camera.
Move over, gingerbread. This year, we fashioned abodes shingled with salami, sided with breadsticks and decorated with almonds. Maybe it’s because many of us have been housebound this year that we created odes to our too-familiar surroundings in a meaty medium?
Sourdough baking, like bingeing “Tiger King,” was a very early-pandemic vibe, fueled by yeast shortages and an excess of time at home. People nurtured their starters as if they were particularly needy children, traded recipes for their castoff dough, and photographed the pillowy interiors and artfully slashed crusts like proud parents.
These seasoned, crunchy strips of root vegetable became one of the few non-carby breakout food stars of the pandemic after vegan chef Tabitha Brown’s TikTok recipe got 3.6 million views. Bonus trend points: They’re crisped in an air fryer, the pandemic cook’s favorite kitchen appliance.
There’s something reassuring about having rows of gleaming jars of food you’ve harvested and “put up” for the long winter. That might be a #cottagecore fantasy for most of us, but enough people bought into it this year that retailers sold out of jars and lids.
Our dreams of self-sufficiency were further fed by the craze for turning kitchen scraps into crops — even if only on a very small scale. Beyond offering a boost to a salad (or just a way to entertain a cooped-up kid), those little green sprouts might have been the glimmer of hope we needed.
Dough became the canvas for legions of newly minted flatbread artists, who took to the trend of studding loafs with baked-in designs for edible masterpieces (van Gogh never had it so good). Floral motifs were the most popular, with herbs and vegetables forming intricate blooms.
Tiny pancakes piled in a bowl and drenched in syrup sounds like a breakfast that only Buddy the Elf would love. But plenty of TikTokers joined in, apparently wooed by the combination of cuteness (miniature foods are a whole genre online) and the perennial popularity of cereal, and the platform dubbed the mash-up its top food trend of 2020.
Edible, lumpy amphibians with googly eyes were the antidote to the precise and lovely ethos of the #breadart trend that we didn’t know we needed. Bakers delighted in their imperfect creations, sharing photos of their goofy, cartoonish bakes — along with some badly needed joy.
Illustrations by Lauren Martin for The Washington Post. Design by Amanda Soto. Photo editing by Jennifer Beeson Gregory.