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Food trend alert: Black is the new green

From icy almond milk lattes darkened with coconut ash to activated charcoal waffles that appear burnt to a crisp, black food is dominating in the fashionable cuisine space

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By Iol | September 9, 2019 | Travel Leisure

Sacha Van Niekerk, IOL

In a world of bubblegum-pink freakshakes adorned with candy floss crowns and rainbow coloured bagels spread with swirls of funfetti flecked cream cheese, this latest food trend stands out like the black sheep of the family.

Encompassing not only naturally grown black foods, such as certain fruits, seeds and grains, the trend also includes foods with altered appearances due to ageing, dyeing and cooking techniques. 

For instance, pungent kala namak, a kiln-fired rock salt used in South Asia or black garlic which gets its intense colour from months of ageing under specialised conditions of heat and humidity. Many restaurants have also taken to dyeing foods black using activated charcoal, which is said to have amazing health benefits pertaining to its toxins and chemical trapping abilities, preventing absorption in the gut.

In terms of health, which is a major aspect of this food trend, black is the new green. Greens get all the antioxidant praise, but black-coloured foods can also be packed with health-promoting qualities. Foods of a dark colour, such as blackberries and eggplant are rich in Anthocyanins which are phytochemicals that are part of the flavonoid family. 

According to Registered Dietitian, Sumaiya Essa, “Their rich purple hue makes them a nutritional standout in the marketplace. These powerful antioxidants can potentially lower your risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol and blood clotting. They have also been linked to diabetes management and prevention of obesity. Most studies are linked to animals and so further research is needed to understand the exact mechanism of action in humans,” she said.

With such a long history of monochrome shades being snubbed for vibrancy, what has made this food style suddenly so desirable? Well, imagine the drama of cracking into black sesame creme brulee? It’s the striking visual impact that black foods have when presented on a plate. However, some may say it’s blown up because it seems like an artful reprisal against the ‘cute’ food movement that took over the web in 2017 with the Unicorn Trend. Regardless, of why, we’re loving the Goth food movement that also seems to be thriving on the South African food scene. 

Here are six local eateries that have made their own spin on the black food trend:

Black food South Africa

Cape Town

The BVB from Scheckter’s RAW Gourmet

Best Vegan Burger patty is made from vegetable protein, lentils, brown rice, oats, flax seed. Topped with smashed avocado, caramelised onions, lettuce, tomato, BBQ mayo sauce, and served with sweet potato fries and vegan aioli. The real surprize factor is the black bun – infused with activated charcoal. Cost: R110. Located: 98 Regent Rd, Sea Point. Call: 021 434 1364. 

Black Tagliolini Allo Scoglio from The Cousins

Black pasta infused with squid ink combined with prawns, muscles and chunks of line fish. Located: 3b Barrack St, Cape Town City Centre. Call: 083 273 9604. 


Liquorice gelato from Momenti Gelato 

Fresh milk infused with whole star anise spice, pure Madagascan vanilla and activated charcoal. After an entire day of infusion, it’s then ready to be slow churned into creamy gelato and scooped into a homemade waffle cone. Cost: R35-R70 per cup. Cone is R50 for one to two flavours. Located: Unit 5, 6 Station Dr, Morningside. Call: 072 949 7263.

Ice cream Macarons by Sugarlicious

Delicate, tender and sweet, macarons are delectable as it is, but Sugarlicious takes things to a whole new level. Their cookies and cream sandwiches ice cream between two intensely dark French macaron shells. Macaroon ice cream prices range from R18 to R28.

Located: 223 Florida Rd. Call 083 611 8050. 


Entrancing black waffle from Roxanne’s Rum Eatery

Vanilla ice cream, liquorice All Sorts, liquorice syrup and black cream and fluffy black Belgian waffles come together to make this indulgent dessert to fulfil all your Goth fantasies. Cost: R95. Location: Shop G/H, Pineslopes Boulevard, Corner Witkoppen Rd and The Straight, Fourways. Call: 011 465 9917.

Octopus by Marble restaurant

The blackened octopus has proved the most popular on their menu. It is served with crushed paprika potato, candied lemon and squid ink dressing. Cost: R185. Location: Trumpet on Keyes Corner 19 Keyes and, Jellicoe Ave, Rosebank. Call: 010 594 5550.

Feature Image: Instagram