I find it quite amusing watching food go in and out of fashion, and at the moment, baking is king, with a strong leaning towards flamboyantly decorated cupcakes and multi-colored macaroons. I have come across a few youngsters in our UAE food blogging group - and they're not interested in the slightest in boring things like dinner. They concentrate almost entirely on desserts. If that's not enough, just ask Bebhinn, our favorite UAE fashion blogger at hellwafashion.com - she's talking about it too. Unlike Bebhinn, I don't pretend for a moment to have any idea what is going on with clothing (my style disappeared with the ability to buy size 8 when I was 25 years old), but food is something I manage to keep my finger - or tongue - on the pulse of. So what's the big thing about sugar?
I put it all down to our natural human trait that is at it's peak between adolescence and our late twenties - the need to rebel. Generation Y, who are just now handing fashion mantles to generation Z, have been raised in an era of nutrient knowledge. Their parents outlawed the white bread jam sandwich that was the staple snack of Gen X, and instead were raised on celery and peanut butter, wholemeal salad sandwiches and granola bars for the sweet carbohydrate hit. Gen Z got all that, plus organic, minus the nuts. And then the world got type 2 diabetes - only the Gen Xs and older of course. So instead of sex, drugs and rock and roll, how do the Generation Y/Zs rebel? With sugar.
And that is why we see tiny fashionistas on screen "oohing" and "ahhing" over Magnolia cupcakes in Sex and The City, and why we see Gossip Girls and fashion bloggers like hellwafashion lauding The macaroon (or macaron for the slightly more francais). It's not because they are the best tasting things in the world (for we all know that title is reserved for cannoli, mangoes and Parmesan-encrusted lamb cutlets), but because they directly rebel against all messages of cholesterol, diabetes and empty calories, and a particularly tiny woman can pick them up in her pretty manicured hands and look like Alice in Wonderland with a naughty fetish.
The funny thing is that women like this don't really eat food like that - not more than once a year. Unless... they portion off a twentieth of it and accidentally drop the rest on the ground, they have a rare metabolic disorder (which usually co-insides with psychotic bitchiness - fact - Google "hyperthyroidism"), or if they barf the lot up the second nobody's looking. But please let us continue to allow them to pose for the camera shot, because a woman like Oprah Whinfrey might make me cry for orphans, but she's not going to sell me a macaroon.
So, what's next for food fashion? Well, I think there are certain characteristics that need to be fulfilled, and they are:
- it has to be just that little bit too hard to make perfectly, so that thin girls can buy them, and fat girls can show off because they can make them as beautifully in the shops.
- It has to have a romantic or fairytale past (e.g. cupcakes and 4-year old birthday parties for little girls, or elegant french ladies with fluffy hand-bag dogs nibbling on macaroons in Parisian cafes)
- They have to come in pretty girly colours, preferably pastels
- They must be able to be packaged adorably for gift-giving
- They have to have no nutritional value and be sweet, sweet, sweet.
And the last two characteristics are desirable but not necessary: they should be bite sized, and exotic. So, have you realised where I'm heading? Think about The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. What did Edmund ask for when the Ice Queen offered him anything in the world that he could wish for? It came in a beautiful little box, and he couldn't stop eating it. The promise of more was alone enough to entice him into delivering his siblings into her evil clutches....
Turkish Delight. It's flavoured with flowers, or not, if the rose is too unusual for you. I've found it in orange blossom, mint, lemon, apricot, vanilla and even violet, with or without nuts. And I'd pretty much die for the stuff. The best examples I have found are at Vivel Patisserie, who are all over Dubai, and if you don't mind big chunks and less variety (strictly rose or vanilla), then believe it or not, Hyperpanda at Festival City is about as good as it gets, and a quarter the price of Vivel. For those who are not food-fashion-forward, you can stick with the cupcake - either go western with the New York Magnolia Bakery at Bloomingdales, or Sugar Daddy's if you like to keep it regional. Both are pretty spectacular, but seriously, it's just a lump of cake with a stack of creamy frosting on top. Macaroons are a little trickier to get perfect, and Ladurée have the reputation for being the best, but are closely rivaled by Fauchon, and Vivel also make some decent ones (but just not quite up there with the others). You'll find all of the above in the Dubai Mall (and other places for some), except Sugar Daddy's, who are at the Jumeirah Village Mall on Beach Rd.Leave me a comment and make my day...