It’s true that we eat with our eyes before anything else. I myself have been guilty of that ever-Asian trend, and if you haven’t been made aware of it, Google ‘Asians taking pictures of Asians taking pictures of food’ and you’ll catch my drift.
It’s like this: when I order a dish off a menu, it’s usually because the accompanying picture caught my attention. That’s why a whole industry’s been made of content production, and this is especially prevalent in the food, dining, and culinary scene. Coming as someone who’s had a background in actually producing menus, photos and text and all, I think I can safely say that the picture says everything the description can’t. It feeds the imagination long before the dish arrives to feed you, and that’s why I’m of the firm belief that food needs to look as beautiful as it tastes.
Obviously, I’m not idealistic enough to imagine that every single thing I cook at home has to look like it came out of Blue Hill Farm, or Fäviken, or Atelier Crenn, or D.O.M, but a girl can definitely try. After all, if there’s anything at all that I’ve learnt cooking out of Nigella Lawson’s books all these years, it’s that beauty can come in something as simple as a healthy scattering of gorgeous, gorgeous chopped herbs on a dish of pasta. And it’s true – I’ve just as often called a crockpot of stew beautiful, as I’ve called the above dark chocolate and marsala cake the same.
I like to believe that beautiful food is as gorgeous as it is wholesome. It should be beautiful inside and out, made with ingredients that are nourishing, that are fresh, and good, and healthy. At least, that’s the philosophy I try to hold myself to when puttering about in the kitchen, the occasional indulgence notwithstanding.
The problem here is this: no matter how good a dish is, no matter how tasty, or healthy, or how good it is for your body, nobody’s going to want to eat it unless it appeals to the eyes.
And so we come full circle. Impressions matter. In people, as much as in food, but we’re in the business of discussing only one today.
Try for that the next time you cook at home. Brighten up your pasta with some chopped parsley. Eat all the colours of the rainbow: carrows, peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes – they’re all good, all gorgeous. Treat yourself to a nice lemon wedge in your water. Float a mint leaf on top of your home-made lemon tea.
Ornamentation; it’s not always necessary, but it’s how I find joy in my food.