Jen Perry, of mobile afternoon tea company Room Forty, is Warrington Guardian's food and drink columnist

LIKE everything, food has its fashions and fads. There’s a clamour to be first to find new flavours and wonder foods. And every year something else will be dropped and quietly forgotten. So what is on the menu for 2018? Here are my predictions…

Food packaging

Excess packaging has finally had its day. War was declared in the last budget and it’s not really before time. Hopefully we’ll see the beginning of the end for the tons of plastic trays, film and cartons that we have to bin following every supermarket shop. The fast food industry too will be hit and forced to use recyclable or biodegradable cartons, cups and straws.

Fermented Food

It’s been around since pre-historic times but this natural way of preserving food is back on trend and very healthy. Fermented food is full of lactobacillus or ‘good bacteria’ which is great for gut health.

It’s very common in Scandinavian countries, Poland, Germany and the Far East. Sauerkraut, is fermented cabbage. The big trend is towards kimchi, which is spiced fermented vegetables and originates in Korea.

Also worth a try is kefir, which is a fermented milk and tastes rather like a yoghurt drink. The supermarkets are selling it now but if you want to buy it cheaper pop into a shop that sells eastern European food.


Not only does this way of cooking give you more veggie bang for your buck, but it reduces food waste.

Restaurants are making the most of produce by using edible parts that we’d normally throw away – celery leaves, broccoli stems, carrot greens and courgette flowers. Nutritious and environmentally-friendly.

Street Food

The Street Food phenomenon continues to prosper with no sign of the bubble bursting and I’m thrilled that it’s here in Warrington.

I’m excited too at the prospect of Foodie Fridays that are starting this year at Time Square in which Singh’s Grillhouse and Café at the End of the Universe will be participating along with hordes of other street food vendors.

Superfood Powders

Best chucked into a smoothie or porridge, ‘superfood’ powders are all the rage. Last year turmeric came to prominence for its ‘superfood’ prowess and anti-inflammatory properties (here’s another tip, rather than buy expensive capsules from the health food shop, pop down to the Thai grocers in Warrington Market and buy a huge bag for a couple of quid).

But do be careful using turmeric. It’s ability to stain clothes, skin and worksurfaces permanent yellow is legend! Baobab is a powdered African fruit available from health food shops that is apparently high in calcium, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin A, thiamin, B6 and flavonoids.

Matcha is another ‘superfood’, many consume it as a tea though it’s not for me. Give me a proper brew any day!


Tea though still the UK’s favourite beverage, has been declining in sales to coffee in recent years. However, quality loose leaf teas are enjoying a boom. Young people are apparently are responsible for a sharp spike in sales.


Yes, you read it right, lard.

Reviled for decades as an alleged death sentence and an acronym for all that is bad. But, apparently it isn’t. In fact wait for it, lard is a healthier fat than butter. Gram for gram, it contains 20 per cent less saturated fat. It’s also one of nature’s best sources of vitamin D. I am not talking about the industrial lard of the supermarkets which has quite probably been bleached, deodorised, emulsified and processed to bits, but homemade or small-scale lard which is likely to be excellent.

Speak to your kindly butcher who might well give you a load of hard pig fat for free to take home and render (have a look online for ways to do this if you fancy having a go). I was lucky enough to eat at a posh restaurant in Birmingham last summer and was served smoked lard as an alternative to butter.

Bread and baking

For many years bread has, wrongly in my opinion, been considered just a filler. A few slices of cut ‘French stick’ in a basket, or worse, a couple of slices of sliced, processed white. Thankfully all that is changing. Quality restaurants are competing to bake and serve, beautiful breads with the meal supplemented with delicious local butters (or indeed lard).

Fresh ‘real’ bread is a simple, unbeatable delight. Countless people who I chat to agree but say it is so hard to find and buy.

Nearby I only know of Sexton’s who bake lovely bread, so the answer is to bake it yourself. We won a World Bread Award last October, of which I am so proud, but only a few years ago I had never baked a loaf myself. Learn to bake at one of our classes and you’ll never need, or ever want to buy commercial bread again.

By our columnist Jen Perry from Room Forty afternoon tea