Perfectly Plated

I watch a lot of YouTube videos (like the Tasty and BuzzFeed Channels) and Netflix shows (The Great British Baking Show) on cooking. You’d think I would be a culinary expert by now. Naw. I’m still just an average cook.

        

When I was a kid, my parents had insisted that I learn to cook. I don’t mean throwing a frozen dinner into the microwave or oven. I mean baking a chicken, preparing rice, sautéing onions, baking biscuits—that sort of thing.

For my friends in Europe, I mean this type of biscuit.

Not this.

But I’ve never been very innovative in the kitchen. Not like my sister-in-law, who loves to experiment. (I’m going somewhere with this. Don’t worry.)

Anyway, as I mentioned, I watch a lot of videos featuring culinary artists—people who went to school to master the art of food preparation. Other than the taste of a dish, nothing showcases a chef’s artistry like a well-plated meal. What do I mean by that?

According to an article entitled, “A Basic Guide to Food Presentation” at Webstaurantstore.com (click here for it):

People eat with their eyes, and creative and thoughtful plating enhances both the look and taste of your food. Focusing on presentation also allows chefs to showcase their creations and demonstrate to guests that they’re getting their money’s worth.

The article from which that quote came from has great tips on color and contrast, choosing the right plate, etc. That’s why you’ll sometimes see chocolate drizzled on a dessert plate, or your entrée artfully presented with the vegetables tucked up nicely. (Unlike what you see in the photo below.)

My usual idea of plating. Get your grub on, y’all.

  

The real deal done by experts

I love that chefs go the extra mile to make a dining experience special and to make food preparation an art form. While I’m unlikely to drizzle chocolate on a plate anytime soon (I’d much rather drizzle it in my mouth), I am inspired to go the extra mile in what I write.

I’m not sure what the literary equivalent of plating might be. Perhaps it starts with a resolve to write the best piece you can.

Speaking of resolutions, onto the winner of Lyn Miller-Lachmann’s novel Dirt Cheap, which was discussed in this guest post.

        

The winner, according to the lovely random number generator, is . . .

Is . . .

Is . . .

Is . . .

Is . . .

Is . . .

Laura Bruno Lilly!

Congratulations, Laura! Please comment below to confirm!

Henry’s idea of plating—just candy in a bag, baby! (I hear you, Henry!)

Pillsbury biscuits from betterbatter.org. Tea biscuits from clipartkid.com. Tasty YouTube logo from YouTube. BuzzFeed logo from siliconangle.com. Great British Baking Show logo found at thats-normal.com. Plated desserts found on Pinterest. Other photos by L. Marie.

40 thoughts on “Perfectly Plated

  1. I would say the literary equivalent of plating comes down to ‘presentation’. Cover art and formatting would fall under this category. The things that make the book look good to entice someone to get to the story/taste.

    • Good point, Charles! 😀 I never thought of that! Makes sense. Nothing is worse, however, than a great looking cover and a dreadful book. That’s why I also think of good book jacket/back of the book text as a necessary addition to the presentation. I find that text even more enticing sometimes than the cover. I think we’ve all been handed some good looking desserts only to take a bite and wish we hadn’t.

  2. I have to agree with Charles. When I think of the literary equivalent of plating, I think of a great cover that pulls me across the bookstore and forces me to pick up the book and read the back cover.

    • Yes! So true, Jill! One thing I find aggravating is when the publisher takes up that valuable space to talk about the author’s other book, rather than the current one! I don’t want to hear about another book! I want to know about this one!

  3. Cute piece. Thanks, Marie! I’m just an average cook too, but I think of cooking and baking as an extension of my writing. Unlike writing a book or even a book review, a dish can be ready in half and hour, or a few hours – tops!

    A team is working on my book cover. It’s gotta look appetizing!

  4. Maybe if Americans would stop eating with their eyes . . . we’d lose a collective TON of weight! 😀

    Just as writers can overdo it with purple prose that is lacking in substances, some restaurants go a bit overboard in creating food art that is lacking in taste. I’m more about function than form. I want something that TASTES good . . . and doesn’t LOOK bad. 😯

  5. Hi L. I enjoy cooking shows like Top Chef and the Baking Show you mentioned. My favorite is Worst Cooks. I love seeing the chefs turn terrible cooks into people who can plate a work of art.

    It’s good that you were taught to cook. In my short story anthology about growing up (here in the burbs), I told a story about me and cooking. I’m Italian and grew up not knowing how to cook! My mom and grandmothers were excellent cooks, but my mom didn’t like me in her kitchen. Spoiler alert: I learned after I got married, but the story about how it happened is comical.

  6. Hmm… intriguing! I think plating in writing could be interpreted making sure the style matches the content? I know I feel jarred if a crime writer becomes too poetic or if a lit-fic writer uses too much salty language…

    • I know what you mean. Anything that pulls me out of a story and causes me to go, “Huh? Why on earth. . .?” makes me think of a richly decorated dessert that you discover, upon taking a bite, has pickles in it. And I don’t mean the sweet kind!

  7. Congratulations to Laura! 🙂

    Plating – or plates! 🙂 I love plates. I have several different dishes, none high-end, but, use them all depending on what we’re eating. (I know, I need a life haha). Tom’s favorite are what we call the tavern plates, because of their shape, and I like them for sausage/link type meals. He took them out for pasta one night, looked t my face, and immediately put them back.
    Right now, I have a favorite show on the Food Channel – Kids Baking Championship. Our granddaughter loves to cook, especially with me. A friend suggested it. Well . . . Kezzie loved it, but so did Ezra, which surprised me. I’ll bet Henry would like it.

    • I love that you have plates for different occasions, Penny. You remind me of another friend who also loves plates and decorating and making the world beautiful.

      Someone else mentioned that show! I need to look at it!

  8. My husband I came upon the concept of “plate the dish” through Home Chef. It became a bit of a joke with us, and even now, with our comparatively boring meals, my husband will ask me to “plate the dish.” Charles nailed it when he compared plating to a book’s presentation. Going the extra mile on your book format and cover means a lot to readers. I’ve honestly kept some books just because I love the cover 😉

    • Your husband is awesome, Marie. Now I’ll be telling myself to plate the dish as I microwave my meals. 😀

      Some books have wonderful covers. I have all of the Harry Potter books. But they keep coming out with new sets with dazzling covers. If I had money, I would buy a new set just for the covers.

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