Predicting the future often leads to far-fetched visions, but in The Taste of Tomorrow: Dispatches From the Future of Food (HarperCollins $25.99), author Josh Schonwald, a former writer for Miami New Times, draws logical conclusions about what we'll be eating in 2035 based on food trends he detects today. His peregrinations take him to the lettuce fields of Salinas, Calif., and to the western hemisphere's largest lettuce lab.
He ponders the marvels of bagged lettuce, and the many varieties of radicchio, which has become one of his favorite types of lettuce. He learns about purslane - a weed favored by foragers - and shiso, a relative of mint that has started to turn up in sushi restaurants. He considers the potential of cobia to become the "next salmon," and travels to the Netherlands to check up on the progress of "test-tube meat." He visits food futurologists for their vision, and even wonders if we'll eventually achieve "the end of food."
We tend to eat mindlessly with little regard to the quantity, quality or origin of our food. But we live in an age of astonishing nutritional abundance, with seemingly endless choices available at every supermarket. Rapid transportation and sophisticated refrigeration have brought us food from around the world at modest prices, and the advent of genetic manipulation will soon bring us foods never before seen. Where is this leading? And what should we do to prepare? The Taste of Tomorrow introduces readers to the surprisingly ample and vigorous research under way to make food more wholesome, more abundant, and less expensive. It also offers on opportunity to think a little more mindfully about the food we eat, giving us something to chew on right now.
Toast the author by trying grilled radicchio, a favorite he discovered on his food odyssey. This purple and slightly bitter lettuce has a variety of uses, but this simple preparation brings out the bold and exciting flavor best.
Cobia, which may be the "next salmon," according to Schonwald, is widely available at grocery stores throughout Florida, but only sporadically. If you find this meaty fish - more like tuna or halibut than cod - give it a try. It's great blackened.
Read & Feed is a monthly column in Taste that matches popular book club selections with food to serve at meetings. If you have suggestions or would like to share what your book club is cooking up, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put BOOK FOOD in the subject line.
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Grilled Radicchio and Romaine
2 heads of radicchio cut in half, top to bottom, and then cut in half again
Four heads of romaine, cut in half
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (or fig balsamic if you can find it)
1/2 cup Parmesan shavings
Brush radicchio and romaine with olive oil and place on a grill or grill pan, medium heat.
Grill, turning occasionally, until the edges are slightly crisp.
Transfer radicchio and romaine to a plate and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic. Use a potato peeler to produce large shavings from a piece of Parmesan and sprinkle over the wedges.
Source: Karen Pryslopski