From the first installment on SMELL, we move to the Foodie’s next sense, SIGHT. What visually excites us about food.
Presentation is a major factor in what we perceive is something good to eat. Regardless if it tastes mediocre, if the presentation of a dish is visually appealing, that alone could sway some folks’ overall opinion of it. Kinda’ like an extremely beautiful woman or very handsome man with a really bad attitude — hey, what the heck, at least they’re good to look at. Right? LOL
FRENCH & JAPANESE
There’s no question French and Japanese cuisine are top-of-mind for me when it comes to incredible food presentation, with a focus on attention to detail. From the meticulous cutting techniques, the contrasting colors, to the way the food is arranged on the plate and artistic methods sauces are applied, down to the style of and way the dishware and utensils are arranged.
Again, Japanese cuisine is top of mind for me when it comes to the visual senses, not only in static presentation, but also presentation in MOTION. Case in point, Teppanyaki, made famous by Benihana. Nothing like sitting by a smokin’ hot flattop grill as your personal chef chops, slices and dices your food with the flipping, twirling and tossing skills of a “Kitchen Ninja”. And carving names and messages into cucumbers, tossing shrimp high into a hat with no misses, and making a smoking volcano out of an onion.
Or it could be simply watching the breakfast cook prepare your personalized omelet to order, adding the requested cheddar, chopped tomatoes, mushrooms and bell peppers to the fresh-eaten eggs as he or she skillfully flips it over in the hot buttered pan.
Food for show.
Food in still photography and video is bigger than ever, no pun intended, thanks of course to the Food Network, the web and social media, with Pinterest alone making up a huge portion of photos from this blog alone being shared there, based on stats.
While most restaurants are happy their customers take photos of their dishes and upload it immediately via “check-in” to Yelp as well as Facebook, some have taken ire to it, due to people being inconsiderate to their fellow diners, from standing on their chair for an above-the-dish angle, to annoyingly excessive and offensive use of their flash.
Thankfully smartphone cameras have dramatically improved in recent years that rival dedicated entry to mid-level point and shoots, almost rendering them obsolete. Where now many of the foodie photos people are posting from their phone cameras on sites such as Yelp are SO MUCH BETTER than they were back when low resolution cellphone cameras were mediocre at best.
One of the things that excites me most visually about food are its vast variety of COLORS. Either the norm or unusual. Carrots in both orange and purple. A white-fleshed watermelon. A blue Kona lobster. Simply adding chopped green onion as garnish to a dish to “freshen it up”. Blackened cross-hatch grill markings on my flame-grilled steak ’n burgers? Oh yeah. A crimson red cherry topping the creamy white whipped cream? Yes please, thank you very much.
Above all for me, while in every sense it is, especially VISUALLY, FOOD IS ART. From the way the Thai make beautiful floral carvings out of fruits and vegetables, to how skillful, highly trained pastry chefs create incredibly complex and detailed sculptures out of sugar, with the resulting piece worthy of the finest museums.