One of the first reasons chefs started garnishing plates with herbs like parsley and mint was as a breath freshener and a digestive aid. It was something you nibbled after you were done eating - a mini-salad, if you will!
Along the way, someone must have noticed that a little bit of green made plates of food look more appetizing. Think about a bowl of stew or a plate of fettuccine alfredo. We eat with our eyes first, the saying goes, and a sprinkle of green herbs brings a pop of color to the otherwise monochrome plate of food.
We start to perk up when people start pushing the boundaries of what qualifies as garnish. Things like frizzled onions on top of a steak or popcorn floating in tomato soup. Are these another ingredient in the dish or a garnish to pique our interest? Does it matter?! The parsley gets set aside, but we'll happily gobble these little morsels.
What's your feeling about garnishes? Do you garnish meals at home?