Modern-food fads we wish would go away

The mysterious alchemy of the fad: One night you’re perplexedly sipping your first “saketini,” and the next night every eatery from here to Bay Ridge is trafficking sake and sweet juice. And while some crazes fade away with a merciful quickness, others outstay their welcome by decades. We’re talking to you, squeeze-bottle sauces. You, too, stacked foods. Go on home now—and don’t come back!

Tuna Tartare

Mushy, desiccated bits of ahi, molded into a little tower drizzled with some avocado-sauce refugee from the ’80s—what’s not to love? Well, as long as you aren’t watching your mercury levels, and don’t mind eating bits of Flipper or noshing a species on the verge of extinction . . .

Truffle Oil

What the hell is truffle oil anyway? It’s a cinch it doesn’t have any truffles in it—in fact, most brands haven’t even been near an actual truffle, but are compounds of olive oil mixed with an aromatic chemical (2,4-dithiapentane) that mimics the odor and flavor of the real thing in a way that makes real truffle lovers nauseous. It also emboldens many restaurants to claim that something is truffled, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Tapas

“Tapas” once exclusively referred to Iberian bar snacks, including tidbits of cured meat, wedges of frittata, saucers of olives, and the like. Over the last decade, however, the term has been appropriated to signal any kind of small plate, be it Japanese, Italian, or invented out of whole cloth. But the real meaning now is “Hang onto your wallet,” because the motive behind many modern “tapas” bars is to sell you scraps of pre-prepared food at inflated prices, which then circle like small satellites around the expensive alcohol that is the real point of the meal.

Squirted Sauces

Squiggles of sauce are shorthand for: “We couldn’t be bothered to make something tasty, so instead we squirted this sauce on top, and that’ll be a million dollars, please.” Maybe you, Chef Squirtsalot, should have been the next Pollock, but stay away from our pollock.

Sake Cocktails

Community boards are a bitch these days, so if you don’t have your hard-liquor license, we understand. But dosing sake into overly sweet cocktails is fooling exactly nobody and getting nobody buzzed, either. Sake is meant to be sipped straight—the end.

Prosciutto

We never thought we’d hear ourselves say, “We’re tired of prosciutto,” but we are! Pressed into innumerable panini, plastered on pizzas, folded into sauces, deep-fried and dumped into salads—the garnet-hued cold cut is too rarely presented in its rightful context: plain on a plate. Let prosciutto be prosciutto!

Kobe Beef

Kobe beef comes from one place, and that’s Japan, and there’s not nearly enough to supply the demand. Accordingly, most beef labeled Kobe is Kobe-style: cross-bred with Angus beef and not massaged with beer. And, whether Kobe or fake Kobe, it certainly doesn’t belong in that slider!

Flourless Chocolate Cake

FCC is the one thing you can find on every dessert menu. In fact, it’s the potato skin of desserts, leaving us wondering: “Who the hell took the flour?” While normal chocolate cakes are light, flavorful, and have crumbs, the flourless version drools out of its crust like motor oil out of a busted can and tastes about the same. If you want pure chocolate, get a chocolate bar.

Friendly Servers

How’re we liking that burger?” I don’t know—do you want a bite? “Have you dined with us before?” Nope, but we’re pretty sure we can figure this menu thing out, thanks. We’re not your fuzzy pet, a mentally challenged five-year-old, or your best friend.

Pork Belly

Pork belly, a/k/a uncured bacon, has become the Morgan Freeman of food—ubiquitous and overrated. True, when it’s good, it’s very, very good, as in the oft-referenced Momofuku pork buns. But pork belly is a cheap trick—it’s half pork fat! And why neglect other parts of the oinker? Bring back pork shoulder!

Stacked Foods

Dinner is not meant to be Jenga. We’re weary of staring down some teetering creation, wondering how exactly we’re meant to eat this. Push it over? Start from the top and work our way down? This deadly phenomenon could be cross-referenced under Squirted Sauces, as the two often go hand in hand and generally exist to distract your attention from the fact that the food is meager, mediocre, and overpriced.

Bottled Water

The greatest marketing scam of the ’80s was convincing the public that there was something wrong with good old tap water. First, bottled water was made out to be glamorous; then, tap water was made out to be unhealthy. Well, we’ve got news for you: Those petroleum-based chemicals leaching into your designer water from the plastic bottle aren’t too good for you, either. Not to mention that water flown from Fiji for your personal pleasure is swelling your 13EEE carbon footprint . . .

 
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