Cherry tomatoes, olive oil, and a block of feta cheese are three simple ingredients, yet Mackenzie Smith’s TikTok of her baked feta pasta got three million views. The hashtag #bakedfetapasta is currently at a whopping 73 million views, as users continue to make the recipe.
The recipe is easy: place a block of feta cheese in the center of a pan, surrounded by tomatoes and olive oil. Then, place it in the oven to bake and boil pasta while waiting. Finally, add the pasta to the pan, mix, and enjoy. Other TikTok users who made the recipe added garlic and other spices to create a slight variation of the recipe.
Due to its popularity, grocery stores in Finland ran out of feta. TikToks of the pasta took over the For You page on the app, and even users who aren’t food bloggers made the dish.
There’ve been varying opinions on if the pasta’s actually good or not. Critics argue that feta isn’t the best cheese to use for this recipe, because the sauce turns out to be gritty instead of smooth. Apparently, French feta, which is more difficult to find, is softer and creamier.
TikTok has a history of having food randomly blow up to the point where users are all begging to try it. When quarantine began in March 2020, TikTok was a way for the world to stay connected. Dalgona coffee, also known as whipped coffee, blew up on TikTok, #dalgonacoffee currently at 460.7 million views. The recipe, consisting of instant coffee, sugar, and hot water, was simple for users to make with ingredients they already had at home.
Birria tacos also gained popularity due to TikToker Anna Paul and her video on Nov. 27, 2020. Birria, a Mexican stew, contains meat, chiles, and spices, and Paul cooks the stew until tender and proceeds to dip tortillas in the stew, and frying them into taco shells.
Another recent food trend was fufu, a West African dish made from starchy foods and hot water, its appearance resembling soft dough, and is eaten with different West African soups. Joeneen Hull, who started the trend, had seen mukbangs, videos where a person eats a large amount of food in one sitting. In the mukbang, fufu was featured, inciting Hull’s curiosity to try it. Hull enjoyed the dish with egusi and okra soup, two types of African soups. The viral food has amassed a total of 350.4 million views under #fufu.
With its rising popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, TikTok has been an influential platform for young people to connect while being quarantined. Ethnic dishes, such as birria tacos and fufu, wouldn’t have been well known without TikTok, and small businesses that serve those dishes are getting exposure due to food trends. It’s not just sharing recipes and culture, it’s making a connection and being part of a community virtually, even if physically alone.