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Garnishes gone wild: A rant

Photo Credit: iStock

Photo Credit: iStock Credit: iStock

A colleague of mine recently revealed that she can’t abide powdered sugar dusted on her pancakes. “The pancake is already sweet enough,” she pointed out, “and the sugar’s just going to get gummy or wind up on my blouse.”

I’ve taken a staunch anti-garnish position for years, but I never much minded powdered sugar. I’ll have to add it to the list.

At the top of that list is balsamic drizzle, adding an unwelcome splatter of syrupy sweetness to salads, chops and other savory items that can get along just fine without it.

Next, sprigs of mint. When was the law passed that every dessert must come garnished with mint? (And in what court, state or federal, can I appeal it?) I have never seen anyone eat the mint that comes alongside countless flourless chocolate cakes and apple crumb pies. If it’s just a hint of green that’s required, the pastry chef is free to garnish my plate with a dollar bill. You know what's nice alongside a slice of pie? A big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Now, herbs. I am not against finishing a savory dish with chopped parsley. Unlike mint, it has a culinary role to play: It adds a note of fresh, green brightness to cooked foods without overwhelming the central flavors of the dish. Ditto snipped chives. But please can we retire the rosemary twigs planted in the middle of my roast chicken? They are far better suited to impersonating pine trees in architectural scale models.

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