Monday, October 24, 2011

Two or Three Part Harmony

Harmony on the plate usually equals harmony on the palate. Why is this important? Think about these combinations: Pickles and apple pie? Sweet potatoes and saurcraut? Roast beef and carrots? Spicy lamb kebobs and cool tzadziki. Some of those combinations work, and some don't. How do you serve a meal that works together?

One easy way is to serve ethnic foods with side dishes from the same ethnic cooking style. For example, English style roast beef works well with English style roast vegetables, like carrots. Hot Indian curry goes well  with cooling yogurts in the same Indian cooking tradition.

Another way to make sure foods are compatable on the plate is to use a little bit of one cooking ingredient in the companion dish. For example, if you're making a pasta dish with basil, you might want to serve a salad that's also got some basil in it. Think spaghetti with caprese salad. You can also use this trick to simply unify your serving. If a sprinkle of one of the spices from your main dish sounds good with the accompanying dish, then chances are the two dishes will taste good together. So, when I make a soup that has parsley, I sprinkle a little bit of the fresh parsley on the salad. That way, the two seem "made for each other."

There's a good reason to serve dishes together that taste good together. The eater will want to have tastes of each food on the plate, then continue tasting and eating, tasting and eating, hopefully eating and enjoying all the variety you've placed there!

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