Is slow the new fast? It depends upon whom you ask.
We've seen Asian fusion restaurants opening up almost as fast as Starbucks chains, and now it seems they have spawned the newest, hottest ethnic-dishes-to-go-mainstream.
The first is pho (pronounced fu). This Vietnamese noodle soup with beef is sweeping through the U.S. like a monsoon. We're finding it in restaurants all over the place, and even on college cafeteria menus. Soon, Seattle's Associated Grocers will begin distributing a line of instant pho noodles and jars of concentrated pho broth paste.
Last week, while riding on a bus we heard a man angrily shout "You're what's ruining the world!" to another passenger whose cell phone was ringing.
He may be extreme in his anti-cell phone sentiments, but it turns out he's not the only one looking for peace in a beeping, buzzing, chattering world.
Wired Magazine calls it "power rudeness." This "ugly behavior enabled by the digital age" includes practices such as using beepers in movie theaters or taking cell phone calls in restaurants.
Everywhere we look these days, cheese seems to be taking center stage.
Many consumers in the Gen X and younger range don't have the time or the know-how to cook. For them, Martha Stewart is beyond aspirational.
Enter Donna Hay - domestic goddess for a new generation, the Microwave Generation. Hay teaches a relaxed approach to cooking. Her books include 'New Food Fast,' in which recipes are classified according to cooking time (none more than 30-minutes) and more recently, 'Off the Shelf,' which advises on how to stock a pantry and then combine fresh ingredients with pantry staples for fast, delicious meals.
Technology has moved into the bar space, in a way that's more "Real World" than cyber café.
Remote Lounge in New York City is being called everything from a techno pleasure palace to a multi-media art gallery. Live video feeds and interactive digital art make up the décor. Patrons are required to check their privacy at door, since the bar is filled with dozens of cameras. Those seated at one of the bar's "Cocktail Consoles" can remotely control the cameras, zooming in to peer more closely at whatever or whomever they choose.
We're hearing about how people are flocking to houses of worship in droves. Everywhere, churches, temples and mosques are filled to capacity. We're searching, it seems, for some spiritual meaning in all of this turmoil.
Well, even if the faithful don't find meaning, they may at least find something to buy. There's a trend among churches -- mixing business with worship. In some cases, it's about attracting more parishioners. In others, it's more about commerce and convenience.
Most consumers who visit spas expect some health benefits - relaxation, weight loss, stress management tips, to name a few. But the latest crop of spas are blurring health and medicine in brand new ways. They're known as medical spas. In addition to the traditional spa amenties (serene settings, massages, gyms, hiking, golfing), they also include an onsite medical facility staffed with doctors and nurses. Spa-goers have the option of enjoying just the "usual" or, for an additional fee, they can undergo medical tests such as electrocardiograms, ultrasounds, cholesterol screenings and more.
Health Fanatics and Vegans have been trying to bring soy to the mainstream for decades. It's been a tough road, though, as consumers have always found tofu bland and haven't quite worked up a taste for soy milk.
But now, soy may finally be getting its day in the sun. It's in the form of "edamame," the new healthy snack-in-a-pod that's all the rage.
Remember when pita sandwiches were new and different? Then came the wrap. Now some people (i.e. protein dieters) are replacing the tortilla with lettuce to enjoy carb-free lettuce wraps. But, what's really the next new sandwich?
We think it's sushi.