Instagram and Facebook are filled with pretty foods. From savory potatoes and bacon wrapped corn on the grille to pastel unicorn cookies and chocolate-dipped strawberry-filled cupcakes. But why the focus on beautiful treats? Are the flavors not enough?
Millennials between ages 18 to 34 are the biggest Instagramers of food images. In fact, many restaurants are now trying to cater to this fact by providing food which is more appealing aesthetically and therefore ready for Instagrammers to post. This, however, does not mean the food is very appealing to the taste buds.
Source: Michelle Oshen CC By-SA 2.0
Take for instance the available for a limited time Unicorn Frappuccino and Zombie Frappuccino from the ever popular Starbucks. These products were very pretty to look at.
The unicorn being described by Starbucks themselves as “a mix of a sweet dusting of pink powder blended into a crème with mango syrup, and layered with a pleasantly sour blue powder topping”.
It was a purple iced beverage with blues and pinks and greens accenting in a swirling formation. The taste was not as impressive. The Washington Post described it as “sour birthday cake and shame”.
The Zombie Frappuccino, which contained mocha sauce, pink powder, and green caramel apple powder, was not much better. Both really tasted of chalk and overdone artificial flavoring.
In these cases, a sacrifice of quality is made in the name of attractiveness. Now, this idea does sell the product, but how can you take this into your kitchen or serve it to your family? No one has the heart to serve bad food just because it looks pretty.
If you’ve watched any of the popular shows starring Chef Ramsay, then you know that it’s easier to teach someone to plate food than it is to cook it. That’s why the best chef’s last on his show, not the best artistic platers.
This is not to say you cannot make dashingly dapper dishes. Now I am no clean cook. Most of what I make looks like slop and taste fabulous, even though I like things a little salty. Sometimes, however, it takes time, a gentle hand, and the patience to make things look perfect.
There is a very great Carrot Cake recipe I have in my family. It is passed down orally and no one has really taken the time to write it down. It is very spongy and sweet and has a homemade cream cheese icing. The cake itself, I usually make in many layers as well as cupcakes since the recipe serving size is made in a way to provide for a very large family.
Often, when I make the cake I am not gentle enough removing the cake from the pan, and due to its squashy nature it does not stick together well and beginning to separate. The end result is always a sticky crumbly mess of delicious “cake”. But that’s how the carrot cake crumbles.
For a special religious event, I had the honor of hosting myself and planning from scratch, I decided to make a summer delicacy, Key Lime Mini Pies with Graham Cracker Crust.
I didn’t want to take any chances on messing this up and took great care to make sure the tiny pies came out perfect. This simple recipe which required a lot of waiting is included here.
2 sleeves Graham Crackers
1/2 c. Butter
18 Key Limes
8 Egg Whites
Milk Chocolate for melting
To make the crust you crush two packs of graham crackers into tiny little crumbs and mix it with ½ cup of melted butter.
To make the lemon meringue filling you will need a lot of lime juice… I measured by whole limes, which I hand squeezed. I sliced and juiced 18 limes and mixed it well with a spatula with 8 egg whites.
Next, you pack the graham cracker butter crust into a cupcake pan or any type shape metal candy mold. Put in an oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Then you need to let it sit for at least 4-5 hours. I placed the pan in the refrigerator in the late evening and then let it sit overnight.
For some extra flavor, and because I like things excessively sweet, I dipped the perfect little cups of pie into chocolate and put those in the freezer for 30 minutes to make glistening little pie pops.
I did not know you could buy egg whites by the carton but had I known I would probably still have done it the hard way by pouring out the yokes and separating the whites by hand. You can also buy the lemon or lime juice, but I prefer juicing them myself.
This recipe is a perfect example of a pretty, but tasty dish, with work. It tastes good if you follow the recipe but only looks good if you work hard to make it so.
The graham crackers need to be packed evenly to ensure a balance in flavor between the crust and filling. But also so that there is a nice straight line showing on the sides.
They have to sit for the right amount of time before being popper out gently or they will crumble and crack.
Likewise, the chocolate dipping process is very messy and is very hard to get even if the chocolate is not hot enough or is overcooked.
Many recipes just take time to make them set just right to get that beautiful look.