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Scanning the hottest food trends for 2017

Old-school pizzerias, online grocery shopping and cauliflower make the list

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Keeping on top of the latest culinary trends can sometimes seem like a fool's errand.

Tastes often change faster than Instagram filters, so it can be hard to predict what will be in vogue next month, let alone next year. That's why Pique has left it up to the experts, the chefs and bloggers and food critics, to compile a highly unscientific list of all the dishes, flavours and practices expected to sweep the nation and delight the tastebuds over the coming year.

A throwback to the old-school pizzeria

There's a certain simple joy in the old-school pizza joint. Maybe it's the red-checkered tablecloths, the fountain pop, or the focus on fresh, unpretentious ingredients. Whatever the draw, Bon Appétit deputy editor Andrew Knowlton sees the neighbourhood pizzeria of yesteryear coming back in a big way in 2017.

Expect to see less of the thin-crust, charred Napolitano-style 'za in favour of the "doughy, old-school, American pie" just like Nonna used to make.

Breakfast, globalized

As adventurous eaters continue to seek out bold and unique ethnic flavours from across the globe, it was only a matter of time before the most important meal of the day got the international treatment it deserves.

The 2017 McCormick Flavour Forecast predicts breakfast options with "big, global flavours" will make waves in the food world next year. Think of a warm, comforting bowl of congee, a thick rice porridge that is a beloved mainstay of Chinese cooking that can be doctored up with any number of ingredients. Or give your breakfast hash a Middle Eastern flair with a drizzle of spicy zhug sauce, a staple of any Israeli dinner table made from fresh hot peppers and seasoned with coriander, garlic and cumin.

In the (sea)weeds

Seaweed isn't just for sushi restaurants and luxury spas anymore.

As the average diner becomes more conscientious of what they put into their bodies, healthy alternatives like seaweed are becoming more popular than ever. Low in calories and high in calcium and iron, seaweed chips became the nutritional snack of choice in 2016, and you can expect to see more wacky and weird uses — seaweed spaghetti, anyone? — for the deep-sea algae over the next year.

More cauliflower

Don't tell the 12-year-olds forcing down that last bite of overcooked cauliflower, but the much-maligned vegetable was everywhere this year, and we can expect more of the same in 2017.

Whether fried, whole roasted or baked, it seems every chef took on the challenge of reimagining the cauliflower this year.

"I'm not sure why cauliflower is appearing everywhere, it freaks me out," said Fairmont Chateau Whistler executive chef Isabel Chung. "I think it's really wonderful that so many people are elevating cauliflower to a new place."

The key to the cauliflower boom is its versatility — it can be prepared in a variety of ways and moulded to almost any style of cuisine. Want a healthy alternative to Chinese takeout? Sub in cauliflower for a sweet and spicy take on General Tso's chicken that will satisfy vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Need a plate of last-minute finger food that won't expand your waistline? Try a recipe for cauliflower "tater" tots that are crispy, delicious and perfect for dipping.

The digital diner

Ditch the long lineups next year as more Canadians opt to forego the grocery store in favour of a more seamless shopping experience online.

A recent Canada Post survey showed that already a quarter of Canadian shoppers are currently or are strongly considering groceries online for delivery. And with online grocery sales projected to grow to a whopping $3.6 billion by 2019, you can expect to see more stores getting in on the ground floor with enhanced digital retail offerings.

Customization is the name of the game here, and the Loblaw Food Council believes digital community hubs will help further personalize grocery shopping.

"Online culture is inspiring food exploration," writes food writer and council member Emma Waverman. "We watch a video or see a photo of a dish and want to immediately order the ingredients to recreate it in our own homes. We need to be inspired in-store, on apps and through eCommerce."

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