The wrong color

The visual aspect of food is a huge part of eating. We all learn to make quick visual “judgments” about our food, even if our other senses are tell us something contrary. As I’ve explored ethnic foods, I’ve learned to let that part go. A good presentation is still appealing, but not as necessary to me as it once was.

For example, black and brown, nasty bananas make the best banana bread. I don’t even like bananas, but I like banana bread – so I’ve learned not to throw them away when they start to turn (HX eats a lot of bananas). Nothing special about the recipe – I think I got it out of The Joy of Cooking. Wait – banana bread – ethnic? Well, it’s my blog and I can do anything I want. And it’s speculated that banana bread was possibly made as early as 77 A.D. in Greece (Pliny wrote about bananas then. I love Google – makes me look smart. And if it’s on Google, it must be true. Even more so with Wikipedia.). So there.

Green eggs. There was a Laotian family selling barbecued eggs at the Hong Kong Dragon boat festival a couple of weeks ago. The greenish color was a turn off for most people, which was too bad – these things are really good. A small hole is made in the shell and the egg is poured out. The egg is then mixed with black pepper and either soy or oyster sauce and poured back into the shell. The eggs are steamed until set, and then grilled.


  1. I think you should look at this in a different way. It’s not that you have to let “that part” (visual presentation) go when exploring ethnic foods, but rather, you must change your perception of what IS good visual presentation. When I’m in China you should see how my fellow diners’ eyes light up when a plate of pig brains appears on the dining table. Afterall, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  2. Your point is well taken and I agree – I’ve been to Asia myself; however, being a lazy writer I did not make it clear that I was not speaking of “presentation”, but rather, “perception” or perhaps “perspective”. (Let’s alliteratively argue semantics! Too many frickin’ “p’s”.) Now I’m confused. Anyway – by perspective, I’m referring to the cultural references that are ingrained in you from childhood. These can not be changed (at least not easily), only abandoned – and this is not to say that others can’t be acquired, which I guess is more to your point. By way of example, look at a classic French dish – pied de cochon. It’s beautiful, delicate, rich. But I grew up in a rural area where that never appeared on the table because we all KNEW it had been ankle deep in pig squeezin’s the day before. But look how I describe it now.

    I think I have a broad appreciation of visual presentation as well – the “art” inherent in food is always present – even if you don’t know what the food is. Look at Ferran Adria’s work at el bulli. Look at that egg in the post – I studied the distribution of pepper flakes (the black spots) and the translucency of the egg quite a bit until my son ate them all.

    Sorry for the ramble!

    Beauty is everywhere, my friend.

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