TikTok drove the food trends of 2021.
Google just published its annual list of the top trending searches in the United States, and the 2021 “recipes” category makes one thing abundantly clear: TikTok is a huge driver of our cravings and our curiosity about food. “TikTok pasta” was the most widely searched recipe of the year. While the popular video app has, as Real Simple puts it, “blessed us” with several trendy pasta dishes, none made quite the splash as feta pasta. The dish certainly went viral, but claims that it led to a feta shortage are dubious at best. Also at the top of Google’s list? Birria tacos. When The New York Times’ Tejal Rao wrote that the social media “hype for birria is relentless,” she wasn’t exaggerating. The cheese pull on quesa birria tacos makes them TikTok gold. (I even wrote about the cheeses that birrieros and taqueros swear by.) Perhaps the most surprising inclusion on Google’s list comes in at number 8: cicadas. Apparently, an overwhelming number of Americans were curious about whether the insects could be eaten when they re-emerged in May after their usual 17-year absence. As a fan of chapulines tacos, I have to say: Cicada tacos were a missed opportunity. —Tina Vasquez