Shortly after the 2016 low-key demise of kale, a new uber-nutritious veg worked its way into every healthy-ish person’s life. Cauliflower slowly became mainstream in a way all of its superfood predecessors weren’t able to—it’s even at Chuck E. Cheesenow in pizza crust form, for crying out loud. And while some foods’ ubiquity has felt overwhelming at some points, the craze around them almost always dies down (#tbt cabbage).
But not cauli. Ohhh, no, not cauli. The cauliflower craze has managed to last longer than just about any other that’s come before it. And because it checks every single box required of a food that’s looking to take over as a bonafide edible trend (it’s healthy, versatile, and, well, tasteless), it’s very unlikely it’s going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, all signs point to cauliflower becoming the longest-lasting food trend of all time.
Suzy Badaracco, president of the trend forecasting company Culinary Tides, told Vox last year she’d begun noticing a rise in interest in cauliflower starting in 2008. Coincidentally, that’s when the obsession around gluten-free eating was starting to become totally normal, a factor that’s crucial in the longevity of food trends. Cauliflower—a naturally gluten-free food that just requires heavy (if also gluten-free) seasoning—became an alternative for those looking for substantial and filling alternatives to what they’d be eating before.
And sure, yes, you could say the same diet-friendly thing of just about any other vegetable, but not every other vegetable is as easily moldable as cauliflower is. Want rice but don’t want rice? There’s a cauliflower product for that. Want steak but don’t want steak? You can also treat cauliflower that way. Want gnocchi but don’t want gnocchi? Yuuup, it works for that, too. Want pizza but don’t want piz—you get it. Name another extremely healthy vegetable you could say that same of. Kale can’t be riced. Broccoli can’t be sliced. And cabbage certainly could not be reconfigured into a lovely, nicely textured gnocchi. The overlap is important—checking more than one of those aforementioned buckets adds to the longevity of a food trend.
The third and final most important cauliflower trait? It’s tasteless. Not only can you turn the stuff into just about any other food, but you can also dump any kind of sauce, seasoning, and/or flavoring onto it as it’s an entirely blank canvas for all of your cooking needs. Seriously—here are 61 cauli recipes, none of which are just “salt your cauliflower and eat it with chicken.” You can make it taste like anything. Again, you can’t say the same of most other superfoods. They generally taste like iron and sulfur, regardless of what you do to them.
But hey! I could be wrong. Let’s plan to check back in sometime around mid-2022 and see if we’re all just sucking down broccoli smoothies and making asparagus grits or whatever.