Atlas Obscura Readers Imagine Their Future National Dishes
The food of 2050 includes crickets, plastic, and nothing at all.
Rarely official and often humble, most national dishes have deep roots in the past. However, some national dishes don’t reflect current gastronomic interests. For example, while apple pie speaks to many people as a quintessential symbol of the United States, Chinese food historian Jennifer 8. Lee poignantly notes in the television series Ugly Delicious that most Americans eat Chinese food more often than they down a slice of pie. The Europe-based Center for Genomic Gastronomy, an “artist-led think tank,” is currently considering the subject, too. At museums in France and Portugal, the Center asked visitors to ponder what their nation’s national dishes would look and taste like in the year 2050, taking into account climate and cultural changes on the horizon.
At Atlas Obscura, we asked our global audience to imagine what their national dish would be like in 32 years’ time. Some readers write that their current national dishes could change for the worse, as climate change and xenophobia make ingredients tougher to source. Some readers try to make the best of a nebulous future, speculating that less-favored proteins, such as crickets, will become commonplace. Others have a rosier view, and suggest that the melting pot might serve up something entirely new. Below is a selection of our favorite answers, to savor and think on.
The United States’s New National Dish Will Be: Sturgeon Dogs
Jochosturg: a high-protein, quarter-pound of farm-raised sturgeon in a tofu casing, topped with equal parts of julienned kimchi and cabbage slaw. With a sauce made of hummus, all wrapped in a very thin naan made of ground, dehydrated, broccoli-stem flour (so, basically, a hot dog!) —Kris Winfield, U.S.A
The United Kingdom’s New National Dish Will Be: Old-School
After Brexit (the U.K.’s exit from the European Union), I’m imagining that there’s going to be less taste for—or simply less ability to afford—the imported ingredients that contribute to our cosmopolitan food culture. The agricultural industry will also go into decline as a result of lower migration. As a consequence, I predict that our future national dish will be a beef pasty with baked beans and/or mushy peas on the side. Either that, or fish fingers and custard, which is an especially British combo: it’s eccentric, it combines local processed delights, and was celebrated in the great Brit TV series, Doctor Who. —James Clayton, United Kingdom
The United Kingdom’s ‘s New National Dish Will Be: Jetsons-Esque
The “UKFT” (or U.K. Food Tablet) will be any one of numerous small tablets, each 20 centimeters in diameter, packed with numerous highly concentrated compositions of the most nutritious edible foods. To be taken with water, on waking, each day. —Jon Knox, United Kingdom
The United States’s New National Dish Will Be: Nothing at All
My country, like most countries on earth, will have empty plates as the national dish. Climate change and political manipulation of hunger as a weapon against soaring populations will see to that. —Richard Derus, United States
Northern Ireland’s New National Dish Will Be: A Sky-High Fry-Up
I don’t think the national dish, Ulster fry, will change much. (Note: Ulster fry is Ulster’s favorite breakfast of sausages, bacon, eggs, griddled breads, and tomato.) But the future dish will probably have small changes. The future national dish will include the usual bacon, fried egg, and sausage, but it will have much more flavorsome breads: like black pudding potato bread, chili flakes soda bread, honey pancake, and a big hash brown. They will also be stacked up in layers like an apartment block with a bread, meat, bread sequence, and possibly a sauce or runny egg yolk, with greenery added to the top. —Nicholas Davis, Northern Ireland
The United States’s New National Dish Will Be: Clawful
Plastic lobster. The oceans will be so polluted that we no longer will be able to eat the actual lobsters, assuming they’ve survived that long. So we’ll use fake plastic lobsters as centerpieces of other dishes instead. —Emeline, United States (Maine)
India’s New National Dish Will Be: Modified Favorites
Cricket flour rotis, soy tikka, and synthetic lemon shikanji [a popular spiced lemonade]. With the weakening monsoons across the Indian plains, farmers will raise more water efficient proteins, bugs mainly. Dairy, once north India’s mainstay, will be replaced by the much less thirsty, humble soy bean. Fruits will be mainstays only in the house of millionaires, and so, to feed the nostalgia of the teeming masses, the industry of synthetic flavorings will boom. A traditional dinner will start by offering the guest a tumbler full of cool water, to let the guest know that no expense will be spared. - Susruta Chakraborty, India
The United States’s New National Dish Will Be: Comfort Food
Chili mac with cheese. It combines two traditional American comfort foods and the two most popular ethnic cuisines, Italian and Mexican, with the one food Americans associate with our British cultural ancestors: cheddar cheese. I’ve experimented with it, and wasn’t surprised when I found a bunch of recipes online. It’s something you could envision any recent president eating and it reminds them of food when they were younger, even if it didn’t exist then. With a vegetable side dish of mixed stir-fried veggies (broccoli, carrots, pea pods, and bok choy) and oatmeal-cranberry cookies, you have an all-American meal of the future. —Steven Kluth, United States
Malaysia’s New National Dish Will Be: Coconut Rice in Your Coffee
Nasi lemak [a fragrant coconut rice dish with a variety of savory sides]. The future of nasi lemak is an intriguing one! McDonald’s had a go at reinventing the dish by introducing the nasi lemak burger. I think nasi lemak will head towards a radical futuristic reinvention; perhaps a deconstructed nasi lemak coffee! —Vickram Thevar, Malaysia
The United States’s New National Dish Will Be: Without A-Peel
Fake animal protein that resembles, smells, and tastes like steak. GMO potatoes grown without peels for faster processing, and hydroponic salad, watered via desalinated water. —Louise Fadness, United States
The United States’s New National Dish Will Be: A Dish?
I think our national dish will still be white porcelain but larger than it is now. Probably more like a platter than a dish. It will have the White House on it with the flag flying overhead. The added diameter will be needed to show the pictures of the half-dozen-or-so additional U.S. Presidents. On it will sit our national sandwich, the quarter-kilo. Heart-stopping! —Mike Glazer, United States
Italy’s New National Dish Will Be: The Eternal Pizza
Assuming pizza is Italy’s national dish: 2050 is 32 years from now. 32 years ago it was 1986. In 1986, pizza was basically the same as it is today, so my prediction is it’ll be basically the same also in 2050. Possibly, there will be a wider selection of acceptable ingredients on top of it. That’s actually the only change that happened in the last 32 years. —Matteo M., Italy
Responses have been edited and condensed for clarity and length.
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