Welcome to the What's Cooking annual roundup of trend forecasts for 2012, compiled from lists by a variety of experts.
Sandwiches are on tap to become one of the top comfort foods of the year.
Not only sandwiches, but grilled cheese sandwiches in particular, with restaurants developing signature combinations.
Look for crazy cocktails in which liquor is infused with flavors of food. One bar in San Francisco serves a martini made from sourdough grilled cheese sandwich-infused vodka -- which pretty much hits the trends trifecta.
Mini-desserts will move out of the bakery case as home bakers discover the lure of little bites.
Potatoes are hot, with French fry menus that let guests choose the cut and crispness, and make-your-own mashed potato mix-ins.
Look for more vegetables used in desserts, far beyond the humble carrot cake.
Indian street foods will gain popularity through food trucks, pop-ups and quick-service restaurants.
Chefs will experiment with flavors of the forests, using subtle infusions of pine needles, Douglas fir and eucalyptus to flavor sauces, rubs, meats, jus and broths.
Meatballs will appear on more menus, with different ethnic interpretations.
Appetizers will be the spot to find ever more adventurous flavors, on the theory that consumers consider them less of a commitment or risk than ordering something unfamiliar for their entrée.
Restaurants will reposition desserts from being an after-dinner option to a way for customers to treat themselves any time of day. As one trend observer said, presenting dessert "as appropriate for all times of day can get away from frugality that comes at the end of a meal."
Expect a greater emphasis on more nutritious kids' menus.
There will be more gluten-free and food allergy-conscious items on menus and in grocery store aisles.
More restaurants will be featuring house-made artisan ice cream.
"Heirloom" will replace "artisanal" as the most overused food term.
More foods will claim to clean out arteries, or more technically, reduce oxidized LDL cholesterol.
There's a new fruit in town: Pluerry, a hybrid fruit combination of a plum and cherry, developed for plum lovers who don't like juice dribbling down their chin.
Fat taxes are a growing trend in Europe, where governments seek to push consumers away from unhealthy foods high in fat, sugar and salt content by adding a tax.
Hydration stations will respond to the movement to cut the use of plastic and ban the sale of bottled water. Look for them first on college campuses, where people can fill reusable bottles.