My BigMouth Blog | A Blog by Jason Glover

Dad Cooking 101: What’s a Garnish?

Cooking for a family is oftentimes like trying to wrap those last minute presents on Christmas morning as you hear footsteps coming down the stairs. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just needs to be done. When it’s dad cooking, the last thing on our minds is presentation. For many, presentation means making sure the peas aren’t touching the mashed potatoes.

In other circles, aesthetics is an important part of meals and the garnish plays an important role. The definition of garnish is something used to improve the look or even taste of a dish. They are chosen sometimes for color and, sometimes, for the taste they may impart to the dish.

Types of Garnishes

Garnishes can be as simple as a cherry on top of a banana split or an intricately cut rose made from a tomato. Perhaps the most famous and widely used garnish is parsley. This brightly colored herb is easily cut into small sprigs for garnishing and goes well with most dishes. It has firm stems that won’t go limp after a few minutes and can be placed on food or simply on the plate.

When serving fish, many people enjoy slicing lemon either into wedges, curls or circles and placing them near fish. The bright yellow of the peel brings a lot of color to the fish plate. In this case, the garnish can also be used to enhance the flavor of the fish.

What Food Do You Garnish?

The great thing about a garnish is that it can go on just about everything. They are on appetizers, main entrees, soups, desserts and even salads. The big question is what food should WE garnish. When you’re cooking a romantic meal for your wife or a big dinner for extended family, adding a little garnish to our dishes can go a long way in making them look sophisticated and classy. Don’t expect your audience/ guests to take particular notice though or expect a complement or two. Many times people love the look of a dish, but don’t separate that the garnish is what helps make it appealing.

Do We Eat It?

The first thing people ask themselves when they see a garnish such as parsley on a dish is “Am I supposed to eat that?” It’s really up to you, but guests are not expected to actually eat the garnish unless it’s something designed to accent the flavor of the food or a powder like paprika on mashed potatoes.

If you really want to eat the celery that comes with your buffalo wings or the pear that tops your cottage cheese, then feel free. If you don’t, then simply leave it on the plate.

For more information about the intricacies of cooking, visit www.dadsthatcook.com.