For decades, people have been putting the “latest and greatest” recipes on dinner tables across the country. Today, with the popularity of social media, sharing pictures and spreading the word of new, exciting food options — especially those that are most popular on the other side of the globe — are easier than ever. Here are the international foods that everyone fell in love with this decade.
Just about everyone in the world knows what sriracha is, but just under a decade ago, that wasn’t the case. Sriracha was originally invented in Si Racha, Thailand, by a woman named Thanom Chakkapak. At first, she only made her tasty hot sauce for friends and family, but after their constant nagging, she finally agreed to start selling commercially. The original sauce is called Sriraja Panich and is somewhat hard to find in the United States, though it became very popular in Asia.
When Vietnamese immigrant David Tran moved to the United States, he had but one goal: to make enough hot sauce for everyone. He started a food company called Huy Fong Foods and began producing the Sriracha hot sauce as we know it today. In the history of his company, Tran never spent any money on marketing or hiring salespeople. The sauce — as well as its iconic logo and the bottles' color scheme — spoke for itself and sriracha became a national sensation. News of the unique sauce spread like wildfire over social media and people even began to put the chicken logo on everything from t-shirts to phone cases.
Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find an American home that doesn’t have a bottle of sriracha. It’s become a fixture on dinner tables just like salt and pepper.
Although quinoa has only recently become popular in the United States, it has been around since the beginning of time. The small, nutritious pellets are considered an “ancient grain” that have been harvested by people in South America as far back as 5000 BCE.
With the steady rise in obesity rates through the 2000s, people began to look for healthy alternatives to some of their favorite food staples. Quinoa was ready to fill the slot. The superfood grew in popularity in the early to mid-2010s, replacing other, less-healthful grains and rice. It had become so popular that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) declared 2013 the official “international year of quinoa.”
Avocados have become so popular in the past 10 years that they have become almost synonymous with an entire generation. The rise in popularity is due to a few factors: he ease of importing from Mexico, an overall trend toward healthiness, and the exclusivity or “luxury” aspect of the fruit. In the 2010s, everything came together to create a perfect storm for the avocado boom.
Mexico is the world’s largest producer of avocados. In the dry, warm conditions, avocados can be produced year-round. Historically, importing produce from Mexico into the United States was a struggle, but due to changes in regulations in 2007, it became easier for shipments to cross the border, giving the U.S. more access to the popular fruit.
At the same time, America’s health consciousness had been steadily growing. Putting a superfood, like avocado, on your sandwich or burrito was seen as a healthful option. Food producers from fast food restaurants to high-end bistros were putting avocados on everything to appeal to the health-conscious crowd. The bright green color also made foods that typically seem drab into colorful masterpieces that could be shared through social media. Even toast becomes photogenic when you put avocado on top!
Since avocados had historically been expensive and hard to get, putting it into food makes the dish seem extra special. After a while, avocado was put on items simply for the prestige. In the world of social media, that makes for even more shareability.
Cauliflower isn’t a new addition to American cuisine, but its popularity reached new heights in the 2010s, particularly toward the end of the decade. Cauliflower is native to the Mediterranean region, from which it spread to India and China, where most of the world’s production takes place today.
In the last decade, carb-free diets have reigned supreme in the weight-loss world, and there has been a rise in gluten sensitivities. Around 2016, cauliflower started to be used as a wheat substitute, which took the world by storm. Now, cauliflower can be used to make anything from breadsticks to tater tots and even grilled cheese sandwiches. We should have known that anything that would allow people watching their carbs or with gluten sensitivities to eat pizza would be a hit.
Hummus has been a staple in the Middle East for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. It’s even considered peasant food because of its availability and affordability. But despite its low societal rank, everyone can’t help but love it. It can be made into countless flavors and serves as a healthful snack alternative.
Americans love to snack, but we feel guilty when the snacks aren’t considered "good" for us. Hummus is the perfect way to stuff your face guilt-free. During the 2010s, hummus sales have quadrupled with more and more people learning about the versatility of the popular dip. It has become so popular that the FAO declared 2016 the “international year of pulses” (pulses is another name for legumes, which are the main ingredient in hummus).