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In this series, Mintel analysts share their recent food adventures – highlighting the exciting, delicious, intriguing, and the not-so-great food and drink they’ve tried lately. This month, our analysts spotlight home-cooking imagination as much of the foodservice industry’s dine-in options are limited due to the worldwide pandemic.

Avocado burger buns

Alice Baker, Research Analyst, UK

I had the Marks & Spencer Avoca-Dough Burger Buns. Avocado has been turning up as an ingredient in all sorts of foods that you wouldn’t expect to find it in recent years, such as ice cream (yes really!). I was intrigued by this product, which has avocado purée incorporated into the dough. This seemed like a bizarre concept and I was curious to see what this would be like. While cutting them open, I was a little disappointed that they were not green, looking instead like standard soft rolls, at least when uncooked. Interestingly, when they were heated in the oven for a couple of minutes, the insides took on a pretty yellowy-green hue. In terms of taste, they had a subtle hint of something a little more interesting than your standard burger bun, though it was difficult to put your finger on what exactly this extra little flavour hint was. They are, however, a bit denser than a standard brioche roll, so if you prefer your burger buns light and fluffy you might want to look elsewhere.

I wouldn’t mind having them again, but they haven’t become my definitive ‘go-to’ choice when looking for burger buns.

Shrimp and Grits that focuses on the essence of soul food

Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, Global Food Analyst, US

I had the Sea Island Shrimp and Grits from Carla Hall’s Soul Food cookbook. I’ve been excited about this cookbook since I heard the author speak at a Chicago Ideas Week talk back in 2018. At the event, Hall described how writing the book opened her eyes to how diverse soul food was, and that the idea many people have of really heavy, unhealthy fried foods isn’t quite accurate. Soul food, she said, is full of plants because that’s what cooks had to work with. So I particularly loved this version of shrimp and grits because it omits any dairy in favor of constant (and I mean constant) whisking. 45 minutes, in fact, of whisking. But the results—creamy, silky grits—were worth it. Can’t wait to explore this book further!

A Turkish-themed meze extravaganza

Alice Pilkington, Food and Drink Research Analyst, UK

I lived for three and a half years in Istanbul, and I usually go back at least twice a year. I have successfully managed to also transform my Italian boyfriend into a Turkophile too (thank God!) With the increasing likelihood that we won’t get over there this summer, and my hankering for my second home particularly strong during summertime, I decided to recreate Istanbul at home. With some of my own foodie knowledge that I had picked up in Turkey, and some incredible recipes from Ozlems Turkish Table (her book is fab!) and the God that is Yotam Ottolenghi, we enjoyed an absolute feast of lamb kebabs, baba ghanoush, watermelon and feta salad, gavurdagi (which is marinated tomatoes with sumac, walnuts and pomegranate molasses) and a red cabbage salad, all accompanied by some incredible fresh bread from my local Turkish supermarket, some traditional music and raki, the national spirit. It wasn’t Istanbul, but it was pretty close!

Jamaican Lamb Pattie-Pot-Pie, Caribbean comfort food

Ayisha Koyenikan, Global Food and Drink Analyst, UK

As a kid, my dad ran a Caribbean restaurant, and some of my fondest memories involve visiting him there and feeling so special because I got to munch away on flaky meat patties for free. For me, there is nothing more comforting than a pie – and Jamaican patties, with their braggadocious yellow overcoats and feisty fillings, are just that, the quintessential Jamaican pie. I used the pattie as the inspiration for a pie for my family, moving it from snack territory into a more substantial meal centre. The cobbler-style topping is very non-traditional but was delicious.

Horseradish pickles that taste like home

David Luttenberger, Global Packaging Director

Growing up in rural Ohio, we always had a huge garden. My dad planted an inordinate number of cucumbers to ensure we had enough for salads, as well as so he could make pickles. Of course, he made dill and sweet pickles, but my favorite was always the horseradish pickles. They take only about two weeks to “pickle”. He always used varying amounts of freshly harvested horseradish root – the more root in the jar, the more eye-watering, and in my opinion, the delicious the pickles.