Food Trends: Paleo

 

With the constant bombardment of complex information, products and new ventures unleashed on us the second we turn on our vast amounts of tech, we often hark back to simpler times as an inspiration for a gentler future.

And one era that couldn't get much simpler or further back is the prehistoric era.

Most of us want to eat more healthily. Whether that’s the increasing trend of vegetarianism in modern life or a return to more traditional cooking methods, it seems we're increasingly focused on what's good for us. And about time too! Our bodies are well suited to digesting natural food such as meat, vegetables and fish. Many restaurants are moving towards healthier options because of our changing perceptions as customers - if we eat meat, for example, we want it naturally sourced and from animals that have been well looked after.

At its core, eating like our prehistoric ancestors - often referred to as the Paleo or Caveman Diet, and occasionally perceived as a fad, so be careful! - is simply about using fresh, unprocessed ingredients. Simple as that. New to us, perhaps, but nothing new.

Prehistoric people weren’t about tearing off great chunks of meat and throwing them on the fire with a hearty grunt. Food sources were fresh and naturally produced; meat from grass fed animals, wild-caught seafood and organically farmed vegetables.  But with an unexpected degree of sophistication too, getting creative with spices and experimenting with flavours. Recent research shows links to our distant ancestors using spices such as garlic mustard seed and coriander.

So while we could be forgiven for assuming a food philosophy also known as The Caveman Diet would mean limited ingredients and basic fare, prehistoric principles have inspired many eateries to create a surprisingly wide variety of mouthwatering dishes, from quinoa burgers and spelt croissants, to seaweed, freshly-caught mackerel, sweet potato mash and coconut milk puddings. Some have extended to gluten-free, and even dairy-free, to cater for particular dietary requirements. A spicy pumpkin pie for dessert is highly palatable paleo, for example, every bit as tempting as a decadent black forest gateau.

Step away from The Flintstones

Standing out from the crowd has never been more important - and nowadays we know that engaging your audience with a full-flavoured experience is just as important as the food produced. Creating an immersive experience for your customers, whether you have a food product, run a restaurant or provide cookery courses or tours, requires attention to detail. Illy’s Kitchen promotes the long-term paleo lifestyle with one day and week-long paleo cookery classes. Tourist destinations like Butser Ancient Farm in Norfolk not only teach you to cook like your ancestors but provide a whole host of other experiences such as learning about herbal medicine and sword making. 

Luckily the primal influence doesn’t mean you have to put up caveman prints and serve your meals on a stone by a waiter wearing an animal skin. It's important to carefully consider those added details to ensure a contemporary twist on the prehistoric eating experience, that is entirely non-gimmicky, and will enhance your brand over time.

Image via Sauvage

Image via Sauvage

One of the leading lights in paleo is Sauvage in Berlin, which only cooks the ingredients that our prehistoric ancestors would use. From their menu with the profile of a caveman on the front to the candlelit tables and the ancestral prints hanging from the walls, Sauvage has its own strong paleo personality and brand ethos. They've cleverly used raw materials, etched wood details, a striking twig chandelier and cave-painting inspired murals to create a strong identity with contemporary appeal.

One of the first restaurants in London to make paleo principles accessible was The Good Life Eatery, that has healthy eating at its heart.

Founded by Yasmine Larizadeh and Shirin Kouros, their mantra is ‘Keep it Simple, Keep it Clean, Keep it Fresh’ and all food is from local, organic sources. They've used a lighter touch on prehistoric design elements, focusing more on the fresh and contemporary to communicate and expand on the principles without overpowering, but it's the chunky logo typography, reminiscent of being hand-carved into rock, that gives an ongoing subtle wink to the caveman connection. 

Create your own prehistoric-inspired experience

Taking primal cues requires attention to ingredients and cooking methods, for example hot stones, clay baking techniques and other methods that bring out the flavour of the food. But it also requires the creation of a physical and marketing presence that promotes your brand with longevity and originality, and sets a scene that customers can easily engage with and enjoy. That could mean anything from serving up food on stone plates and wooden platters, with cave paintings on the walls and natural looking surroundings, to devising your own individual twist which mixes old with new to create something truly unique.

Have a look at our Pinterest board to help your primal instincts kick in. Team the perfect food with a seismic multi-sensory impact, and your prehistoric experience will go down in history!

 
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