Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Presentation is Everything OR How to Sound Like A Ninja in the Kitchen

If you're like me, most of the food you're making at home isn't all that groundbreaking. I've never made a foam (well, not intentionally), or a gelee, or bacon-and-wasabi-and-chocolate ice cream. (Ugh. Bacon.) But guess what? Nobody needs to know that. NOBODY. It's all in how you frame it, folks, and we're gonna frame it in awesome.

Ever notice how at a restaurant things almost always sound much more delicious and complicated, even if it's the simplest thing in the world to make? That is because restaurateurs know that they've gotta sell you on the dish before they can sell it to you, and we're going to take a cue from them. I will illustrate thusly: Perhaps my daughter asks me what we're having for breakfast. I could tell her "pancakes and fruit", or I could tell her "fluffy, warm whole grain pancakes with a drizzle of maple syrup, accompanied by a selection of local seasonal fruits". She's five, so it might not have the desired effect on her, but I know which breakfast I'd choose. Lunch could be peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or it could be "Creamy all-natural peanut butter paired with apricot preserves and generously slathered on two slices of soft whole wheat bread". Tonight, you're not having spaghetti for dinner, you're having "spaghetti imported from Italy enrobed in a rich, sweet marinara sauce".

Or maybe you don't want to describe the dish. Maybe your kids will roll their eyes or your husband's eyes will glaze over before you can even get going. That's okay, I've got you covered, too. Let's just rename the dish, since someone is bound to ask what you're making for dinner. If you're going to rename the dish to take it from "okay" to "ninja", I've found it's important to name several ingredients as well as two or three key flavors, and if you can, a state, country or region of the world. For instance, in our house, we eat a certain noodle dish a lot. I could just call it peanut noodles- that sums it up and my family knows what I'm talking about- but it sounds infinitely better if I call it Chinese sesame-peanut noodles with cucumbers and cilantro. I could make tilapia, lemony rice and green beans (eh), or I could make talapia in a lemon dill sauce with citrus-scented rice and steamed fresh green beans (ninja). You get the idea. Now, go forth and make yourself sound like a kitchen ninja. Perhaps they'll be so impressed someone else will do the dishes.

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