Vegetable Sculpting

Vegetable sculpting? Carrot curls anyone? Carving decorative vegetables is probably becoming a lost art. In the past it was not unusual to see ordinary housewives turning radishes into roses, and cucumber slices into stars, or making carrot curls. Not that decorative little touches are not to be seen at parties and important family dinners, they are but usually come on already prepared trays bought at a hefty prices at speciality food places.

Since these special little garnishes can now be purchased from super markets, why take the time out of busy lives to create works of art that possibly will go unnoticed by those who are supposed to notice, and are consumed without a thought of their importance to you, the creator? And too, why bother wasting all that time preparing such beauty that will not last? When such extra’s were in vogue, time was slower, or seemingly so, and hostesses prided themselves on their culinary skills. Today with outside work more of a necessity, and maid service practically a thing of the past, who can afford the frivolity of carved vegetables.

Time changes everything. I briefly browsed through my new 75th Anniversary Editon of Better Homes and Gardens and I saw beautifully created dishes, but, unless I skimmed through too fast, no section on carving vegetables did I see. The editors knew that today’s cooks have no time for such treats.

What’s now more popular for decorating seems to be what can be placed on or near the plate that is edible but is part of the overall recipe. In other words, sliced tomatoes add color, as do sliced eggs, especially when garnishing potato salad. Olives and pickles take over for many of the once elaborately decorative creations.

Bought edible flowers are a choice, but is not as popular as one is led to believe. Cooks still would rather look at flowers than eat them. Although recently I saw a picture of an extraordinary centerpiece for a thanksgiving dinners that was put together with edibles. It took hours I was told.

The “stems’ of flowers were of onion blades, the flowers were small sections of cauliflower, and snippets of this and that. There was dangling pieces of parsley, and a little bit of this and that filling in as flowers. It was pretty. But, I doubt if it was eaten and at the price of such frivolity, few cooks today will care to try such a venture.

Besides, what decoration does that turkey need while waiting for a hungry bunch to devour him/her/or it. Give the bird a few minutes of glory as the center of attention. Or do as our president does, spare him his life, feathers and all. What need is there for carved veggies on Thanksgiving when waiting are mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet-potato casserole, green beans and apple pie?

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