As countries across the world enter new lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new survey found lockdown is actually making Americans more adventurous when it comes to their food.
The study asked 2,000 nationally representative Americans about how they’re keeping things interesting in the kitchen during quarantine and found three in five are using this time to explore new cultures through food.
Millennials were the most likely to don a chef’s hat and experiment with new cuisine during quarantine so far — at 69%, compared to 65% of their Gen X counterparts and a mere 28% of baby boomers.
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Pearls Olives, the survey found 65% of respondents said travel restrictions have made them more interested in trying new cultural foods from their homes.
The top cultural cuisines these respondents want to try as quarantine continues included Italian (51%) and Mexican (44%) with regional American food and Spanish food tying for third place.
Just over a third of respondents also want to take a trip to France with their food, 27% want to try Middle Eastern food and 25% want to reach for something Greek.
Within the United States, the top regional foods respondents are missing easy access to were tied between the South and the Northeast — at 28%.
Respondents were also asked what U.S. city the best destination for food is — and the results showed the Big Apple is the foodie capital of the country, closely followed by Chicago, Los Angeles and New Orleans.
“The study showed us that Americans are taking to the kitchen to experiment with more out of the box cuisines,” said Tré Musco, Chief Brand Officer for Pearls Olives.
“As many parts of the country enter another lockdown due to COVID-19, exploring cultural cuisines is a great way to add interest to your meals — and these results reflect this.
“For Italian and Mexican cuisines in particular, an easy way to experiment with these cultural dishes is adding black olives, more distinctly flavored kalamata olives or even jalapeno stuffed green olives for an additional burst of flavor to simple dishes like pizzas, pastas, tacos and salads.”
As the average pollster has canceled three trips due to COVID-19, 56% shared they have food FOMO from past vacations and have tried to replicate them during quarantine.
Reminiscing on life before the pandemic, naturally going to restaurants tops the list of food experiences respondents are missing out on.
One in five respondents also shared they miss spending time with friends and experiencing restaurant ambiances as well as multiple course meals.
This food FOMO has been beneficial in a way, however, as respondents are cooking more at home during the pandemic — an average of seven times a week compared to six prior to lockdown.
Six in 10 respondents also shared that the top flavor profile they look for in new foods is something savory.
“With the increased focus on home cooking, we’re seeing consumers find new, creative ways to enjoy the flavors they may miss from traveling or eating out,” said Tré Musco, Chief Brand Officer for Pearls Olives.
“Pantry staples like olives are a versatile way to add those savory flavors home chefs are looking for and are a healthy, flavorful addition to just about any dish to make a good thing even better.”
Respondents were also asked what countries they think have the best food, and the melting pot of the world topped the list — with 41% picking the United States.
Closely followed by the U.S. for best food included Italy (30%), France (27%) and China (19%).
The top ways respondents shared they get inspired to try new recipes from around the world included food websites (46%), friends (35%) and good old-fashioned magazines (34%)
TOP CULTURAL CUISINES AMERICANS WANT TO TRY AT HOME
Italian — 51%
Mexican — 44%
American regional food — 39%
Spanish — 39%
French — 36%
Middle Eastern — 27%
Greek — 25%
TOP 20 U.S. CITIES WITH THE BEST FOOD
New York City
TOP 25 COUNTRIES WITH THE BEST FOOD
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