Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Playing with food...

You can count me in among the crowd that likes to poke fun at Martha Stewart, even though I wouldn't dream of admitting to anyone that I absolutely love looking at her magazine Martha Stewart Living but purely from a graphic design aspect, of course. It is has such beautiful layouts and lovely photographs. It is a feast for the eyes.

Not that I see it all that often, mind you: we go to the dentist twice a year and he keeps a few issues in the waiting room. The most recent one I looked at has a recipe for a body scrub using Epsom salt, carrier oil, essential oil, and a bit of food coloring, which one can give as a Christmas gift. I do not have food coloring, but I do have lots of Epsom salt, I have oil, I have several nice essential oils, I may try it.

At any rate, I think it is basically a "given" that despite the over-the-top aspects of Martha, there is something to be said for how food is presented. Even the best-tasting recipe will attract more people to eat it if it is nicely presented. Well, it should, at any rate. I think I did a good job of presenting the cranberry covered cheese ball (see the last post) even though there weren't too many takers..

At any rate, a whole industry has evolved to teach people who are really interested in those things how to present food and make nice garnishes to make the plate more attractive.

Fancying up the food is nothing new. My 1924 edition of Fanny Farmer's old Boston Cooking-School Cook Book shows a plate of "cucumber baskets."

Cucumber baskets! Lord, have mercy.

The Betty Crocker cookbook I got as a wedding present has suggestions and instructions on garnishes.

Some have taken the art of food art to new heights. Probably just about everyone got the e-mail with the vegetable creations. Right?

Some of them are cute...

and whimsical....

and some were rather creepy.

A few people in my family could probably be creative in this way. My sister could certainly present food in an attractive manner; she seems to have a flair for decorating. And a couple of the nieces have artistic ability. I do not. Decidedly not. I can barely draw a straight line with a ruler, and I wouldn't even contemplate picking up a knife or some other special tool to sculpt a radish rose or an onion flower.

I am not good with my hands, but I could probably manipulate certain foods into a sculpture though. The other day I had finished cooking the barley and vegetables for Barley Miso Soup and got out the bag of miso to add at the last, after I had taken the soup off the burner (miso should not be subjected to high heat). Miso is this dark brown stuff with the consistency of Play Dough. I dumped the glop of it out on the cutting board so I get the amount I wanted and pinched off a piece. You have to put it in a bowl and then mix in a little of the hot liquid and mash it around and then mix in a bit more hot liquid and mash it some more until it smooths out, and then you add it to the soup.

Richard was standing next to me at the counter putting his lunch together, and had a few comments to make about the miso as I was doing this. Most of his comments about the food I make involve "baby barf" or "baby poop." This was no exception..

Leaving his viewpoint out if it.... fiddling with this stuff could be fun. If one wanted to play with the miso, one could make little balls and create a snowman, or little animals, or.....

1 comment:

Tami said...

I have a very old Betty Crocker cookbook. It was my Mum and possible her Mum's. Anyway. It shows garnishes. Which I never tried. And I have to say that I'm so lazy that I don't even use serving bowls anymore. I just serve out of the pot. Just seems like a waste of time to have to wash another dish. My presentation is totally lacking.....but yummmmmmy is the food!