Is Ancient Menu Design the Next Big Thing?

For a while, trends have been going in the direction of simpler foods with fewer ingredients and more of an emphasis on freshness and locality. Customers want an idea of what they’re eating and where it came from. They do not want over-processed foods or those that have an ingredient list that looks like a novel. To that extent, some restaurants are taking this concept of simplicity and modest menu design to the extreme and are going back in time.

The Wall Street Journal released a piece last month highlighting several restaurants and chefs who are experimenting with recipes and cooking techniques long before their times.  Chefs are using recipes for traditional foods that date back to the Roman Empire and the Jewish Diaspora. While it may sound neat to try a food that people may have eaten thousands of years ago, there are a few hang-ups.

First, past cuisine featured different spices and meats that the novice foodie may not be used to. People of past eras used more parts of animals because they did not want to waste. Moreover, those who have tried some of the older recipes have indicated that the food was bland and not as many spices were used.  Those who try these ancient foods may be shocked to find that it’s not to their liking.

Moreover, those who want to try the food may have to shell a few bucks to do so. In order for chefs to make these meals, they have to use some ingredients that cost double the price of present day ingredients. These may be hard to find or just more costly as they’re not used as much given modern cooking.  Although these food items may have been inexpensive and widely available in the Renaissance, they may be a little harder to come by now.

Still, even with these constraints, it is an exciting idea and those who want to try something new will not be disappointed.