2020 Food and Drink Trends

This year led us to a very intimate relationship with our pantries

Sourdough starter and sourdough bread

leonori / Getty Images

The changes we made as the year unfolded are not ones we'll soon forget, including wearing masks down grocery aisles, hunting down coveted hand sanitizer, and juggling working from home with a number of other commitments. Each adjustment collectively made this chapter in our lives one of awe, confusion, some sadness, and likely, a reverence of what we managed to survive as the year comes to an end. We also learned just how precious everyday items that were once so easily accessible truly are. In the future, will we ever look at fully stocked toilet paper shelves in stores without a bit of excitement or disbelief? Did you end up paying luxury skincare prices for a bottle of Lysol online? And then, there's the controversial and exhausting debate that still lingers: did we really need to wipe down our groceries?

Sheltering safely at home gave many of us an opportunity to explore new hobbies and find ways to connect virtually. Chefs invited us into their homes with online cooking classes and recipes. We learned how to make banana bread from Dominique Ansel and smoothies from the Cookie Monster

And when we missed eating in our favorite restaurants, chefs around the country packaged to-go meals that offered a taste of their culture, from juicy shrimp wontons to cured salmon tostadas.

It's likely your love of (or need for) wine intensified this year as well. Virtual wine experiences gave us the chance to still maintain some connection to our favorite bottles and vineyards, as well as learn about new ones. We sniffed and swirled collectively on our screens, learned what to pair from chefs and sommeliers, and added more bottles to our growing collection and recyclable bin (because we deserved it). 

More time at home also meant more time to dust off old recipes and channel our own inner Michelin starred chef and baking pursuits. We did so much baking, in fact, that there was a time when flour was just as hard to get a hold of as toilet paper. Gluten be damned, bread held fast to the spotlight. We decorated focaccia with elaborate flower patterns and waited for our bananas to ripen for more banana nut bread. And then there was sourdough, a bread we embraced because it doesn't require dry yeast, which was also nearly impossible to find this year due to high demand. We prepared our sourdough starters of flour and water, then watched them bloom in the oven. 

This year also led us to a very intimate relationship with our pantries (why yes, you did in fact have baking powder from 1999 in there!) Low stocked items in grocery stores coupled with the desire to stay home created a voyage into the back corners of cupboards to discover new finds and staples that would help us whip up something quickly. Baking powder, vanilla extract, chicken broth, and coffee are just a few of the items that will forever remain a part of our grocery lists...just in case. And speaking of coffee, caffeine had a moment, too. The fuel we needed to get us through yet another Zoom meeting got remixed and whipped. The fluffy, creamy dalgona coffee method was one of the biggest trends of 2020, so much so, that it even had coffee purists (gasp) embrace instant coffee. 

Not even 2020 could stop the power of pumpkin, which made its annual return in the form of scented candles, lattes, breads, butters, and even cocktails. We threw just about every food we could into an air fryer and checked Amazon to see when our favorite snacks that had been missing from stores for months would return.

One day, we'll look back on this year and remember when we coveted grocery items and decided to be chefs and oenophiles. But really what we did, was to try to make the best out of a situation, out of a new world, the best way we could. And we found ways to do that between the pages of recipe books, in breads baking in our ovens, cans sitting in cupboards, and bottles lining our cocktail cabinets. And all of it made a challenging year a little more bearable, and a little more delicious, too.