Creating lovely food presentations can be a time-consuming task – and it really adds nothing to the taste or value of the food. Is it important to present food in attractive ways?
Here’s what a home economist in training had to say a hundred years ago:
The Value of Attractive Food
Having kept house before I took my domestic-science training I used to think that the use of pretty dishes and garnishes, and the serving of foods in unfamiliar but pleasing guises, were clever but a useless way of showing off before company.
Now I now know that these things have an actual physiological value. For instance, my sister, fifteen and anaemic, had a very capricious appetite and could not be induced to eat sufficient nourishing food, things that have an actual physiological value.
From my study of physiology and kindred subjects I learned how very closely the nerves of sight and smell are connected with those affecting the digestive organs, and how the very sight of attractive food causes certain digestive processes to begin.
Thus certain nourishing soups that sister ordinarily would not touch were eaten when served in a pretty china cup with a spoonful of whipped cream, the cream adding to its nutritive value, and a leaf or a flower at its side.
She needed eggs but refused them boiled, poached, or before my enlightenment, fried. Later she ate dozens of them worked up into attractive desserts or smuggled into unfamiliar dishes made appetizing and attractive enough to tempt her into sampling them.
She not only ate food which she would otherwise have refused, but, because she enjoyed eating it, she digested and assimilated it and became a new kind of girl.
M.W., Teachers’ College (Ladies Home Journal, February, 1917)