Not a topic which comes up very often – well, at all, if I’m truthful – but I’d like a small word with you about garnishes.
Back when I was a kid and mum was cooking way ahead of her time, I will confess that her imagination came to a bit of a screeching halt if she had to think past parsley as a garnish. We had a bed of parsley in the garden, and I was often sent thence to bring back a handful of the stuff with which to grace our plates.
Some many, many moons later, I admit that I’m still a tad perplexed about the whole garnish controversy. I remember loathing the taste of parsley then, and I can’t say I’d particularly like to chow down on it now either.
It particularly puzzles me if we go out to breakfast to find that your eggs, in whichever form you order them, arrive in front of you cozied up to a garnish of a jaunty sprig of kale and a slice of orange. Now I don’t know about you, but kale just frankly doesn’t go with anything known to be ingestible by man, and while I will admit a glass of orange juice with breakfast can be quite refreshing, I can’t come at the thought of having a mouthful of omelet with an orange chaser.
Sir and I went out to dinner the other night, and we chose to split a ribeye, it being our favored cut, but knowing that neither of us could put away a 14-ounce slab on our own.
Out it came, beautifully cooked and garnished with a medium size flat-ish onion, an orange pepperoncini and a green serrano chili. Other than the chef’s desire to blow one’s head off, I’m not terribly sure of his intentions.
Now, work with me here. Garnish, no matter what it consists of, actually costs the kitchen money, and I think I can state without fear of contradiction, that 99.999998 percent of all garnishes end up in the trash.
So let’s try to come up with plate decorations that might actually be consumed.
In the case of the humble breakfast egg, how about a nice dollop of caviar – ooh – and a shot of vodka on the side? No? OK, try this one – bacon cutely fashioned into the figure of a small pig, or heart-shaped mini sausage patties. Delicately de-crusted toast points, or if you wanted to get terribly fancy, a small spoonful of sour cream and chives?
And rather than garnish your steak with what effectively is a small apartment building, Rhode Island’s State Crest and shavings from your 1962 pencil sharpener – as after all, they are all about as digestible as two chilies and an onion – how about something that would actually make one’s mouth, and not one’s eyes, water.
May I throw caution to the wind and suggest a cute little pot of mustard, or a small jug of béarnaise sauce. Even barbecue sauce has more bearing on a steak than a serrano pepper.
Waste not, want not, I say.
Annie Dear lives in Lee’s Summit. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.