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Garnishing meals: Applying the finishing touch

Food must not only smell good; it should also look attractive. A meal is not complete until the finishing touches are well-executed. Garnishes are important because they help whet one’s appetite and make eating a more delightful experience.

As much as their purpose is to make meals colourful, you should use edible garnishes as much as possible as they tend to add varied textures and flavours to meals. However, if you choose to use inedible ones, be sure to use garnishes that are easily identifiable so they can be removed.

Also, beware of their individual tastes and how it can change that of the meal’s flavour. If a dish is bland, garnish with herbs and spices may be allowed. However, if the food already has a variety of flavours, it would be better if you opt for garnishes with less flavour to avoid clashes with other ingredients. This could be off-putting and quench one’s appetite for the food.

Selecting and arranging garnishes

Vary colour and texture: Choose a colour which contrasts with the main dish so it stands out and looks more appealing.

Garnish becomes more eye-catching when it is placed on a plain, contrasting background. If the meal is colourful on its own, then place it directly on the plate or bowl. Keep in mind that the purpose of the garnish is to highlight the meal and not to steal the attention away from the food. Arranging a few pieces of garnish in a well-spaced manner may look more appealing than an all-around border or a huge pile.

For savoury dishes, use vegetables as they are excellent for pasta, rice, meat, vegetable dishes etc. If you are unsure, use one vegetable that was used as an ingredient in the dish.

You may also opt for a sprig of herbs as they are the simplest and commonest to use. They are a great addition to rich and heavy flavoured dishes as they balance them out with lighter and more natural ingredients. Sometimes, all you need is a sprinkle of ground herbs or spices like chilli powder, paprika and turmeric as they are brightly coloured enough to serve as garnishes by themselves.

Don’t be afraid to get creative but don’t overdo it as well. Keep it simple and pleasant and so it appeals to the senses at the right degree.

Source: Glitz Africa Magazine issue 22

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