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The Fusion of Comfort and Experimentation

The Fusion of Comfort and Experimentation

During the pandemic, consumers had an abundance of time to familiarise themselves with traditional cooking techniques and formative ingredients from countries all over the world, without leaving the comfort of their own homes.

  According to The Food People, we are now entering into a new period of "conscious cuisine", where chefs and home cooks are being led by techniques, ingredients, and ideologies, rather than strict geographical lines. Consumers are beginning to draw inspiration on traditional elements, while expanding and experimenting with multiple cuisines on a single plate.

The rulebook is being thrown out the window. These hyper regional flavours, dishes and elements, are being layered to create a more complex eating experience even for the price-conscious consumer.  Rare street food seasonings and cooking techniques are being packed into sachets and recipe boxes for the consumer to recreate the experience at home.

But it's not just about what we eat – it's also about how we eat.


As consumers embrace a more active lifestyle, the rise of the handheld format has become increasingly pronounced. From classic bagels to traditional arepas, people are gravitating towards the convenience and comfort of handheld delights. These bread-based vessels serve as blank canvases for culinary creativity, catering to a spectrum of tastes and preferences.

Take for instance, the resurgence of arepas – the handheld corn pockets hailing from Venezuela and Colombia. As consumers delve deeper into experimenting with different flavours and techniques, arepas have emerged as symbols of cultural exploration and celebration. Naturally gluten-free and endlessly versatile, they offer a canvas for fusion flavours and cross-cultural inspirations, bridging the gap between tradition and innovation with both sweet and savoury creations.

Bagels are seeing a similar revival, paying particular attention to techniques. In 2023, it was all about the gourmet toastie, but bagels are set to be the hottest bread of 2024.

The cream cheese brand Philadelphia has partnered with bagel shops across the US to create hole-less bagels to maximise the space for the traditional cream cheese schmear. Is a bagel without a hole still a bagel?

Papos Bagels in London has garnered a cult following for their NY style bagels, with ‘authentic Jewish-American’ toppings and fillings. Both Papos and London bagel shop icons like Beigel Bake offer the consumer comfort in authenticity, either with everything bagel seasonings or a chewy traditional salt beef bagel. Bagels are arguably the ultimate comfort food and so consumers already ‘trust’ a bagel. 

This leaves a great opportunity for chefs and lovers of all things bagel to experiment with flavour, fusion and cuisine mash-ups. The appeal of these handheld delights lies not only in their comforting familiarity but also in their ability to surprise and delight with global influences. Whether it's an umami-packed bagel featuring tofu and gochugaru flakes, or an Italian-inspired caprese-style arepas, these dishes offer a tantalizing journey for the taste buds.

Handheld flavours represent more than just culinary trends – they embody a shift towards authenticity, and global gastronomic exploration and fusion experimentation. As consumers seek both comfort and excitement in their culinary experiences, these innovative offerings are poised to take centre stage, inspiring a new era of food delight.