Cooking is a science - combine ingredients x,y & z and you will get effect a. Some universities even offer degrees in things like "bakery science." So cooking is a science.
Or is it an art? High-end restaurants agonize over plates and garnishes trying to come up with unique presentations. Photos on menus draw us in, notice all the photos on my blog? Deserts are often on display in glass cases, when we see it, we HAVE to eat it (at least I do), it just looks so good. In Japan they take it one step further with plastic food displays to entice customers into restaurants.
So earlier this week, I watched a video clip about the use of plastic food in Japan (which I now can't find) and then I read this post by One Hungry Chef about the pursuit of concepts in food presentation and the taste becomes lost. These combined to get me thinking, how important is the presentation of the food?
Don't get me wrong, I agree with Hungry Chef that taste should be the most important concern but I think that presentation is a close second. Do I take the time to slice up garnish? Not normally. Do I have a few tricks up my sleeve for special occasions? Hell yeah. I can make strawberry fans, orange curls and tomato flowers with the best of 'em. Ok well...maybe their sloppy assistant.
Like I said, how food looks makes us want to eat it. If it doesn't look good I won't even find out how it tastes. Take sushi for example. I'm a picky eater, so I was never into having all my food put together in a little roll but it always looked so pretty! I just had to eat it, eventually. Ok so I don't need my salad to come in a martini glass, but I don't want to eat it after it's been say...run through a blender and turned into a greenish soup. I'm pretty sure Hungry Chef also puts some thought into the aesthetic - he has gorgeous photos!
Maybe 60% taste and 40% appearance. What do you think?