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2023 Summer Food Trends: Rat Girl Summer and Girl Dinners

If you spend any time on social media and follow any assortment of food-related accounts, you’ve likely heard of “Girl Dinner”. The trend has over 1.4 billion views on TikTok, and with a quick Google, you’ll see how many folks are talking about the idea of composing an entire dinner of snacks.

Think, a charcuterie plate, plus popcorn, plus Cheetos, plus a bite of leftovers, plus whatever else you feel like eating. It reminds me of how my friends often feed their toddlers: a mashup of all the best things like cheese, crackers, guacamole, berries, a granola bar, and a pile of kimchi for good measure. Girl dinner is supposed to be “freewheeling and indulgent, something of “a culinary Bacchanalia” as Bon Appetit put it. Of course, anything with billions of TikTok views, it comes with some social scrutiny, and some critics of “girl dinner” worry that its too closely aligned with habits of disordered, under-eating. Aka, replacing a full meal with a snack. But I think the idea of girl dinner is liberating. (But to be clear, it’s not new.) You mean I don’t have to cook a three-part dinner every night? I can avoid a massive pile of dishes, time over a hot stove, and intuitively snack my way from hungry to very full and satisfied. I can eat the entire jar of pickled okra if I want to? If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re like me and ove food, valuing a thoughtfully composed plate of a main and some sides. But sometimes, you just want to snack. Sign me up. In case you’re curious, here are some other random food and food-adjacent trends of the summer:

Snack it up.

Tinned Fish

Okay, this trend has definitely got started before this summer, but it really blew up on TikTok this year. (It’s even been called “hot girl food” by at least one person.) A tin of fish (or marinated octopus or smoked oysters) makes a great addition to a plate of VRDNT veggies, and maybe a chunk of bread.


Chopped Sandwich

A classic Italian sub, but chopped up and put into a hoagie. Again, nothing particularly new here, but I think the nuisance is in the chopping. I’ve linked I’ve yet to make this, but it does look good. COOK IT: Viral TIkTok Sammy

Tomato Girl Summer

You may have heard of Coastal Grandma, last summer’s aesthetic. (I’m more of a “Feedstore Grandpa”, myself.) But did you know this is Tomato Girl Summer? See also: very expensive tomato-scented candles.

Pickle Cocktails

People are especially into briny things this summer. And with off-the-charts heat, it makes sense to combine electorate-infused pickle juice with alcohol. Summer is an excellent time for pickling, and there’s no reason to not make a spritz or a martini with your leftover brine. Tastes like summer. COOK IT: The Best Pickle Cocktails

Shaved Fruit Dessert

The basic idea is uncomplicated. Take your preferred fruit – options often include peaches, oranges, strawberries, and watermelon – place it in the freezer until frozen. Then, using a microplane zester or a fine grater, delicately shave the frozen fruit over a bowl. This results in what many refer to as "shaved ice," which is enhanced with a medley of complementary textures and flavors from toppings such as sweetened condensed milk, whipped cream, toasted nuts, honey, and other additions. This would be a great treatment to any VRDNT melon, or dare I say, tomato. COOK IT: Grated Frozen Fruit All the Melon Recipes. Cutting a bunch of cherry tomatoes at once like this. My mom has sent this video to me at least a couple of times on Instagram. Despite her persistence, I’ve yet to try it. But it seems… effective. Storing your Saran wrap in the freezer and microwaving garlic cloves for easy peeling.

Whether your preference leans towards whipped fetas, oozy burratas, or fluffy meringues, you can expect to encounter an abundance of runny, ethereal foods gracing the menus of restaurants, embellishing dinner parties, and adorning coffee shop counters throughout 2023. People are into the fluff. COOK IT: Summer Squash with Chili Oil, Basil, and Burrata

Like most trends, there's nothing truly novel here. These trends are likely part of a pattern, that due to some enigmatic algorithmic influence, has become prevalent within our cultural consciousness. Food internet is weird, and fun.


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