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December 28, 2018

Every year, the 5pm Dining blog takes a wild stab in the dark and tries to forecast the food trends which will fill our bellies over the next twelve months.

Over the next couple of blogs, with the help of research from Eater, Olive magazine, JWT Innovation and the restaurant consultants Baum and Whiteman, we will outline some of the food fashions which may come into play in 2019.

The crucial word here is 'may'. Taste is fickle and January's must-have ingredient might be February's cro-nut.

On Monday, we will take a semi-serious look at the big issues which will have an effect on the restaurant scene.

Today, we have a lighter look at some of the more exotic influences that could shape our plates in 2019.

CBD blazes a trail

First up, everyone is predicting a boom in dishes and drinks infused with cannabis-based ingredients, specifically cannabidol oil or CBD.

It is not psychoactive but many claim that it has several benefits including pain relief; help with anxiety and even acne reduction.

Some of the world's biggest drinks companies are already producing drinks that use cannabis products. In America, where several states have de-criminalised cannabis, several restaurants are adding CBD to dishes such as Mary Jane ice cream.

As ever, good branding helps. In London's Covent Garden, the Maison Bab restaurant serves a CBD oil-infused cocktail called the Gin 'n' Chronic.

Many commentators ascribe the predicted rise in cannabis-based products to millennials.

This blogger can't help but feel that every new trend is either blamed on or credited to millennials but there is a ring of truth to this theory.

The idea is that millennials are drinking less alcohol so cannabis-based products provide a buzz or mellow feeling but none of the drunkenness - and concomitant potential social media shaming - of booze.

Has peak avocado passed?

While on the subject of millennials, it would appear that peak avocado has passed. It's all about the nut-based spreads now with sales of good old peanut butter booming.

On a similar tip, word has it that mushrooms are the new meaty veg. Bye bye jackfruit and hello Hen of the Woods.

Also tipped for the top are goat's meat, whey, craft ciders and the Philippine citrus fruit calamansi which is described as a cross between mandarin and kumquat.

Personally, I never travel without one.

We have also seen a prediction for a rise in the popularity of lichen (main pic from Mushroom Observer) as a foodstuff.

Initially, this seems unlikely but in the event of a no deal Brexit anything is possible.

Along with other potential fundamental changes, Brexit's effect on the UK's restaurant scene is something we will return to on Monday.