In an intriguing conversation with a culinary student, I listened, as this student suggested how "southern food doesn't look appealing to the eye" and went on to say "it never looked dainty".... Initially I was shocked to hear a culinary student make these comments, but after thinking on the subject for some time, I began to understand their perspective.
I grew up in East Texas, where my grandmother raised hens in her backyard accompanied with a full garden along side her home; so I certainly didn't grow up in a home where southern foods were "plated" either. Thomas Keller can be quoted saying "A recipe has no soul, you as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe". I share similar sentiments of Keller's quote in regards to plating food.
As a cook, and often using food as my art, I often challenge myself to push the limits. I rarely search for excuses when I make mistakes, or when I encounter road blocks, or even after I have failed. Embracing my worse moments in search of what the experience can/will teach me has been my greatest reform.
For this post, I prepared and plated a dish that was often eaten and served in my home as a child, it was served to nourish our bodies & not necessarily "plated" to appeal to the eye; but that is no excuse for me to simply disregard the possibilities. The photo attached below is my first attempt to exquisitely plate southern food. In the next 60 days, I will be challenging myself to plate more southern meals at a higher level than what you see pictured here. My goal is to take note of my elevation during the process while capturing each photo, using each previous one as my muse to make the next dish exceptional. In the end, I hope to have learned new techniques, or how to combine new flavors with old southern traditions, and to also open myself to unlimited possibilities with food.
This is just the beginning, I hope you guys will stay tuned as I journey through my "Roots on a Plate". Please feel free to comment with ideas, suggestions, etc. I am always open to feedback.
Photo: Creamy Potato's, Oxtail, Spinach sautéed in Lobster Oil, Shallots & Sweet Red Peppers