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What’s On Your Plate For 1997?

By Rick Bonino Food Editor

As usual, you’re probably looking to us to tell you what the hot food trends will be in the coming year.

And we, in turn, will rely on that respected culinary journal, Men’s Fitness, for guidance. According to the magazine’s expert sources, along with the still-festering fusion food fad (think cilantro and soy sauce over spaghetti), the biggies will be:

Guatemalan, Chilean and other South and Central American restaurants, as well as Indian cuisine. Chutney will take its place in the condiment kingdom alongside salsa, predicts Isabel MacGurn of the Hampton Chutney Company (an objective analysis if we ever heard one).

Movable mealtimes, in an increasingly global and time-shifting society. “Restaurants will begin to serve dinner in the morning,” says Art Siemering, publisher of the Trend/Wire newsletter.

More organic products. Lisa Shapiro of the Wild Oats Market in Boulder, Colo., expects you’ll soon be able to buy organic versions of any type of food, at about the same price as national name brands.

Sports drinks. Lynn Dornblaser, publisher of New Product News, also looks for more caffeine-spiked bottled beverages like Water Joe.

Sports bars and theme eateries. Opines Internet Food Channel producer Joshua Isenberg: “We’ll go to restaurants for cyber-adventures like virtual reality safaris, complete with boar and ostrich on the menu.”

Food intentions

Of course, most of us will be too busy minding our peas and kumquats for a while to do any adventurous eating.

More than two-thirds (69 percent) of Americans are resolving to eat more fruits and vegetables in the coming year, up from 56 percent last year, according to survey results reported by the National Cancer Institute.

Nearly three-quarters of the poll participants also pledge to eat more healthily in general, while two-thirds will try to reduce the fat in their diets, up from about half last year. (The operative word, we believe, is “try.”)

Rattail soup?

In case you thought the holidays were over, it’s never too early to start preparing for the Chinese New Year, coming right around the corner on Feb. 7. This year (which happens to be 4695, in case you’ve lost track) will be the Year of the Ox - which has to be a gastronomic step up from the just-concluding Year of the Rat.

Dancing fools

Finally, ominous news from Domino’s Pizza, which reports that a full 459 of its delivery drivers were asked by customers to join them in doing the Macarena last year to get a bigger tip. Here’s hoping for a safer, saner 1997.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Drawing

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