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The chef, innovator and former Microsoft chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold's multi-volume work Modernist Cuisine, takes a scientific approach to cooking and destroys many long-cherished tropes, such as the myth of "natural" ingredients (there are actually very few truly natural ingredients, and most of them you wouldn't want anywhere near your dinner plate).
Using a combination of very old and very new techniques, the style is a no-nonsense approach to the art and science of preparing meals.
Arising partly in harmony with the molecular gastronomy movement, there's been increased interest in an update on a long-forgotten technique called sous-vide, which involves simmering food in sealed plastic bags in water at low temperatures (typically about 140 degrees Fahrenheit or so) for very long periods; the technique cooks food very evenly, and because the food is sealed in, it stays moist and flavourful.
3. Locavore cuisine
McCauley is a bit skeptical of the premise that the locavore movement -- the idea of producing and eating food that has travelled less than 100 miles to your table -- is better for you or the planet.
Actually, recent studies at the University of Guelph have shown that the carbon footprint and costs of the 100-mile diet are exponentially higher than centralized, high-efficiency factory farms, even those that are a significant distance away from where the food is sold. That said, some restaurants and individual homeowners have started cultivating urban-backyard and rooftop gardens to grow fresh, organic produce for the table; while such micro-cultivation may not have a significant impact on the food industry as a whole, there are certain social (not to mention gourmet) advantages to food produced this way.
4. The digital kitchen
In some countries now, including parts of Asia and London, England, you can scan QR codes on your smartphone to order groceries in the afternoon, and have them delivered by the time you get home from work. In fact, smartphones and other digital devices are finding many uses in the kitchen, from meal planning and recipe lookup to counting calories.
Appliances like "smart" refrigerators have built-in computer screens, and soon will be able to read barcodes on milk cartons and tell you when they've expired, or let you know when you're out of staples like eggs or cheese. And tablet computers are tailor-made for the kitchen: Some kitchen designers are building them into the cabinetry right along with other appliances, and there are literally thousands of apps with recipes and other info, so that for many cooks, they are rapidly displacing hard-copy cookbooks for everyday meal preparation.
5. The gentrification of humble foods
Comfort food like burgers, pizza and even mac-and-cheese has gone uptown: High-end restaurants have started offering gourmet versions of familiar favourites, elevating them to the level of haute cuisine. Interestingly, the opposite is becoming true as well, perhaps a reaction to the aging baby boomer demographic: Fast-food chains like McDonald's, in an attempt to capture a more sophisticated audience, have begun offering healthier and more sophisticated options on their menus, creating what McCauley calls "pressure on the middle" between haute and low cuisine.
6. Nose-to-tail dining
This trend harks back to the days of the family farm, when every part of the animal was used in some way. Popularized by chefs such as Britain's Fergus Henderson and Jennifer McLagan's cookbook Odd Bits, the idea is to get closer to the source of your dinner and to experiment with "the rest of the animal" as a food source, with less familiar cuts such as organs, tail, tongue, feet and so on. Some of these novel cuts are highly nutritious, less expensive and quite delicious when prepared well.