The appearance of a dish influences our expectations and impressions of taste and quality. For example, a neat slice of meatloaf with a side of colorful vegetables looks more appealing than an uneven slab of meatloaf on a drab plate. Whether you want to make food more attractive for a dinner party, encourage a sick person to eat, feed a picky child or take an appealing photograph, improving the appearance of a dish helps people enjoy it more.
Add color. Mix chopped red and green peppers into macaroni and cheese, add a garnish of parsley to mashed potatoes or add a side of colorful vegetables to a steak. Use frozen or canned vegetables if fresh vegetables are not available. You can also add color with a sprinkle of paprika, a small side salad, sweet potato fries or a bowl of chopped fruit.
Add texture. For example, sprinkle yogurt with granola, top a slice of cheesecake with chopped nuts or add a dollop of creamy sauce to crunchy vegetables. You can also add breadcrumbs to casseroles and dishes before cooking or toast sandwiches before serving.
Ensure that the dish is hot or cold, not room temperature. Hot and cold foods appear fresher and more appetizing than room-temperature foods. However, make sure the food is not dangerously hot, especially when serving young children or the elderly.
Add extra spice or flavor to the meal. For example, add flavor with garlic, lemon juice, lime juice, chopped chives, curry powder, cumin, cilantro or oregano. If possible, use fresh herbs, as they are stronger than dried herbs.
Serve the meal on attractive dishes. For example, square plates add a modern feel, while oval dishes look trendy. Make sure the dishes are the appropriate size for each quantity of food; dishes that are too large for the amount of food served can make it appear as though there is not enough food for everyone to share.
- UAB Medicine; Taste, Smell (Loss of); March 2002
- "Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation"; Amy Christine Brown; 2003
- Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images
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