Updated: Feb 17
June 1, 2019
Ever heard of the term "eating with the eyes"? Whether we are conscious of it or not, its something that many of us do. Imagine being presented with a plate that serves as a base for a thoughtfully assembled meal. With colors pleasing to the eyes, textures that compliment each other and the chef's (or artist's as i call them) play with height and depth. Now imagine a similar plate with the same meal dumped unto the plate carelessly however with the same quantity. Which would you prefer? I'll take a wild guess and assume you chose the first.
Did you know that the appearance of a dish can influence our perception of its taste? oh you know that phenomenon of "if it looks good, it must taste good" and vice versa? Well, just like taste has the power to elicit emotions in humans, so does sight. Since sight often comes before taste, it plays a big part in our psyche. Even before getting a whiff of the meal, seeing a beautiful dish whether from afar or in an image heightens our senses and makes us excited. When something makes us feel good, we often believe that it will be satisfying even before committing to it. (Just ask the sales people in your favorite store :))
This is why as a cook, chef, foodie, or anyone in the food industry, it is important to pay attention to how food looks. Food is an enticing agent that wins first through sight, smell and then taste. The way we present food is just as important, if not more important than the taste. In other words, "the packaging matters". Its what excites people and calls them to action. To eat or not to eat.
Nigeria is blessed with diverse cultures, each having their own unique dishes, however, these dishes are usually known only to Nigerians. How then do we make Nigerian dishes mainstream? By showcasing it in ways that make them irresistible and mouthwatering enough to make those who have never heard of it to want to try it! Plating plays a major role in that. Would you have guessed that the dish below is made of pap (ogi)?
I know right?! Our parents did not teach us to plate pap this way so what gives?! Well the world is constantly evolving and creativity is at an all time high for us millennials. We have to evolve with the times in order to make meaningful impact with Nigerian dishes. Food is an avenue through which cultures connect and being able to present Nigerian food to people from other cultures is a great way to welcome people to our cuisine!