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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Making Meals Pretty – The Food

It isn’t hard to make a meal look attractive, but sometimes it’s easy to forget if you don’t keep it in mind. My great-grandfather had no sense of taste, so to him the appeal of a meal was all visual. Consequently, if it didn’t look nice, he didn’t really enjoy it.

My mom and sister both took home economic courses that taught them to make food look attractive by using different color combinations. It isn’t really that hard to do most of the time. But, it does take a bit of thinking ahead, and I admit that my efforts are sometimes haphazard. Sometimes I think about what I have on hand or what sounds good, only to discover when I serve the meal that it’s very unappealing visually. Here are few examples and illustrations to show what I mean.

Here is a meal I made that is balanced, but not attractive. It is all brown, beige and white. Though some people think these are lovely colors because they are neutral, neutral colors are neutral because they don’t say anything! They are blah, or perhaps I should say mute.

This next meal, which I made on another occasion has two of the same components, but with a colorful vegetable mix and drink (grape juice), it makes a pretty picture.

Notice the difference in these next two pictures where a pan full of food is dressed up with a small addition of color. It is not particularly striking, yet it really does look better.

To both the pasta/herb mix and the zucchini was added a sprinkling of shredded cheese (maybe parmesan?), and to the zucchini was added just a few black olive halves and some bits of tomato. But, it looks so much tastier to me! :-) Of course, melted cheese has the tendency to make a lot of things look yummier by virtue of the anticipated taste, but its’ color can be useful as well.

Here are some items that will add color interest when added to various and sundry dishes:

Black or green olives
Carrots – slices, shaved or shredded
Green leafy vegetables, including lettuce
Sour Cream (for a bright white)
Cheese – especially orange cheeses
Green herbs
Frozen peas (I recommend adding them at the last minute so they keep their color and fresher taste)
Various fruits
Colorful peppers of all kinds

Even some flowers are edible and can perk up a salad. Just be sure not to use anything that has been treated with a systemic poison or something that isn’t safe for consumption.

Of course, try to match up the flavor of the things you add for color with the food you are serving. Chunks of watermelon hardly belong in potato soup. :-)

Anyway, this is just to encourage you (and myself) to try to dress things up just a bit with some color. It will make your meals more appealing visually, which is good for the artistic part of us. (Yes, we all have an artistic side – we are created in the image of God and He is the ultimate artist and master of color!) It doesn’t take much. If nothing else, serve some sliced tomatoes, carrots or apples along with the meal.

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