Because black is the new black.
There’s nothing new about infusing food with an inky black hue; the Italians have been churning out black spaghetti and risotto for years after all, while Japan and Hong Kong were black food trendsetters way before the west caught on. Even so, there’s something perennially fascinating about food and drink that’s been artificially infused with a shade as dark as your soul (inevitable post-snack black teeth aside). So, if you’re looking for a mellow way to embrace the dark side, why not give some of these black-hued snacks, sweets, and drinks from around the world a try?
First commercialized by Burger King Japan (and McDonalds), before the former moved over to the US for a Halloween promotion a few years back, fans went wild for the squid ink and charcoal black-bunned, black-cheesed, black-sauced burgers. If you want to settle your goth-food cravings though, locations as diverse as Mumbai, Dubai and Kuwait also offer their own year-round takes on this eye-catching burger.
INSIDER TIPThese black burgers might look great going down, but the green-hued poop you’re likely to suffer afterward is best left off Instagram. Consider yourself warned.
It’s almost impossible to pinpoint the origin story of the charcoal ice cream trend, given that these now-ubiquitous creamy black cones have been the victim of a million copycats. Even so, many maintain that Little Damage’s (originally) limited edition soft serves were the OG summer treat fit for goth food fame. Don’t fret too much if you can’t make it to L.A. though, because you can now get your soft serve black ice cream fix in plenty of cities worldwide, from Mexico City to New York.
INSIDER TIPFor the full goth treatment at L.A.’s Little Damage, double down and get your almond-ice cream in a black waffle cone.
While Italian squid ink pasta is likely the OG goth-food favorite in Europe, the original black snack in Asia is surely China’s sesame seed blackened dessert, gee-ma woo. While the basic recipe consists of just rice, sugar, water, and ground sesame seeds, there are multiple variations across south-east Asia of this gloopy black pudding-porridge-soup. Just make sure you brush your teeth afterward, unless you’re really going all in on the all-black-everything theme.
Little Ghost Bagels’ London pop-up is the perfect place to feed your inner emo, with some suitably satanic looking, New York-style black bagels. You’re not going to find anything like your standard lox and cream cheese options cluttering the menu though because these bagels are all about their Asian-inspired, fried chicken fillings “laced with heavy metal.”
INSIDER TIPLittle Ghost Bagels also offer a beetroot-pink bagel too, if you’re not really in a heavy metal kind of mood.
Ranging anywhere from didn’t-try-hard-enough pale grey to black-as-your-soul midnight, charcoal lattes are the perfect caffeine pick-me-up for the pessimist hiding within. However, we all know you’re just drinking your novelty coffee for the ‘gram, so don’t pretend you’re all about the (alleged) cleansing credentials of this dark drink. Having said that, we can all agree that pretentious charcoal coffees are infinitely better than the millennial food trend of the moment, the dubious avocado latte.
If you’re on the hunt for a black beverage that doesn’t just taste like, well, water, then Pressed’s range of activated charcoal-enriched lemonades should do the trick. While their black hue obviously comes from the added carbon, Pressed Lemonade’s taste is sweeter than its appearance would lead you to believe, containing hints of honey, lemon, and lavender.
From black pizza to black pasta, there’s not much the Italians can’t do. Squid ink pasta has been around for years, and it’s pretty universally accepted that black food made with squid ink (as opposed to charcoal) has a far better flavor, so get your fill of inky carbs next time you’re in town.
As the old saying goes, “all pizza is good pizza,” although that may not be the case when you receive an overbaked pie with a blackened crust. Good news, pizza lovers! With the invention of charcoal-infused pizza dough, you can get your coveted burnt aesthetic without the overcooked taste. While a handful of restaurants across the US and Canada have this peculiar item on their menu, you can of course also get charcoal black pizza (the trendy kind) in restaurants across Italy, too.
Brits aren’t typically thought of culinary innovators. Quite the opposite, in fact, but Michael Lee Fine Cheeses seemed on a bid to disprove that assertion when they started stocking their jet-black brand of mature cheddar, Char Coal, a few years back. Originally hailed as the world’s first and only black cheese, it’s hard to deny that (vaguely moldy appearance aside) some black dairy would make for a definite show-stopper at your next cheese and wine night.
INSIDER TIPFor an extra kick, try out the smoked or spicy versions of Char Coal cheese.
Cocktail creators are often at the forefront of creativity in their bid to stand out amongst a sea of cookie-cutter G&Ts, Tequila Sunrises, and Piña Coladas, so inky black cocktails are nothing new. Even so, if you want to add some seasonal spook to your cocktail evening, you’ll have to hunt down the latest bar in your area to hop on the charcoal/squid ink/sesame seed black bandwagon, as cocktail menus and trends fall in and out of favor faster than fashion folly.
Macarons might be tricky to make, but eating these delicate meringue-based mouthfuls proves no problem for most people. However, if you want to add a little gothic edge to what is quintessentially a fancy confectioners favorite, try one of these truffle-infused black beauties, which can surely be found in at least one Parisian bakery window.
The stalwart brunchtime waffle was one of the goth food trend’s first (and finest) examples, offering up a black twist by way of an activated charcoal addition for mildly adventurous diners looking to take their brunch up a notch. Now, you can find these black (not burnt) mid-morning treats worldwide, from Hong Kong to the USA and back again.
From the bun to the bratwurst, restaurants in Japan went the whole hog when creating their monochromatic hotdogs, casting a black shadow over the perennially popular snack. And, to bring this list full circle, just as the black burger started life in Japan, so did the wholly black hot dog. First popularised by Vegas Premium Hot-Dogs in Tokyo, IKEA Japan got in on the action with their own version a few years down the line.