The Garnish Debate: Call Me a Rebel

As a little kid I remember parsley garnishes mystifying me. Why did curly greens occupy so much space on my plate—and it’s not even Passover?

But the parsley garnish, for garnish sake, no longer visits our tables. Instead, garnishes spring from what’s in the dish, if a dish is garnished at all. Use cilantro in a sauce, use cilantro as a garnish. Use kumquat in a cupcake, use a kumquat slice as garnish.

David Rocco of Cooking Channel‘s Dolce Vita reiterated this fact in a recent episode, refusing to add a leafy green to top a pasta dish since the dish did not contain it. Instead he cracked fresh pepper on top, silently communicating his heavy usage of pepper in the dish.

Rocco’s commandment popped in my head as I decorated a sweet potato and lentil soup with black mustard seeds.

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Feeding a Grease Monster


I have friends (plus baby) coming to town this weekend. It was just the push I needed to finally get to the store this year. Yea, that’s right. I haven’t been food shopping since 2009. 80P and I have been out of town, sick and lazy. I think 80 has grabbed some eggs, cereal and milk, but really – that’s it.

I grabbed some weekend snacks: tortilla chips, ruffled potato chips, avocado, feta and mozzarella. I’ve heard their one year old, Jack, loves polly-o string cheese. All I could find was a chunk of mozz, so I’m hoping if I cut it into cylinders, Jack will dig it.

Also in my cart, with no real reason: plantains, Kabocha squash, cilantro, mangoes, lemons and limes and other canned staples (beans, coconut milk, pickles, olives).

I got home and still had no clue what to make. I turned to The Flavor Bible, checked out mango’s flavor friends, but didn’t have the right ingredients. Making room for that on the shelf I saw a new cookbook – Alicia Silverstone‘s The Kind Diet.

The first few chapters detail the horrendous factory farming practices of our country. I skipped those pages because I’m still struggling to finish Eating Animals, which actually makes me never want to eat anything ever again.

Then a recipe calling for Kabocha squash, and barely any other ingredients, found me. Alicia directed her loving fans to simply boil the peeled and cubed squash (4 cups squash to 3 1/2 cups water), add salt, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10, add more salt, simmer some more, mash til smooth, finish with chopped parsley. Now simple sounds good to me, especially when I have to spend the rest of the night scrubbing the floors for a one year old’s visit.

But a soup only flavored with salt. I have a food blog. I must do better than that.  I started off healthful – adding lime juice then crushed red pepper flakes and I subbed cilantro for the parsley. But 80. Oh 80. My grease loving boyfriend. How could he be enticed to sup on soup for dinner?

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