Appealing to the Eye

“Appealing” is defined as: Attractive, inviting, or pleasing.

Since sight is the first sense that experiences food we are served, the presentation should attract, invite and please the eye, and promise the palate that it too shall be delighted.

Before I was old enough to understand this concept,  I used to watch as Mom spent hours decorating the dozen or more dishes that would garland the dining room table whenever we had company.

A dinner for 30 – 40 guests was a common occurrence in our house, since cooking was Mom’s passion, and Dad’s work necessitated socializing.

Between 1969 and 1974 Mom re-created every dish she knew how to make and invented over three dozen of her own, to include in the cookbook her friends pushed her to write “Dishes and Flavors of the East“.  It was the first compendium of its type, capturing many recipes from around the Middle East and North Africa, which she collected and improved upon over the years.

Since Mom never measured, it was a 5-year-long effort to capture and record the correct amount of each ingredient. It sometimes took 2  – 3 tries to get a recipe right.

A dinner for 25 guests – 1972

She would literally spend an hour on the plate of Spice Rice Pudding, creating a mandala with pistachios, almonds, walnuts and pine nuts. Her friends would hesitate to disturb these works of art to serve themselves.

I don’t have actual photos unfortunately, since most of our possessions were victims of the unrest in Lebanon…I took photos of pictures in her cookbook as an example.

Yaqout’s Spice Rice Pudding with Nuts

Another example of her work and one of my favorite rice puddings, flavored with Orange Blossom water, is below.

Middle Eastern Rice Pudding with Glazed Apricots, Pistachios and Pine Nuts

Putting conscious care into what ever it is we do, is bound to elevate the benefit of the service that ‘thing’ offers its recipient, whether it’s food, a project, a handcrafted item, etc..

It’s impossible not to feel the effect of someone’s sincere and best effort.  Anything done with love carries love’s vibration, one of the highest energy vibrations on Earth.

Mom sitting with us when we were sick, was enough to make us feel better. She used to silently repeat God’s name for the better part of each day.  How could we not heal faster around her?  They say God is contained in His name. 🙂

Well, it’s the same with work we do…what we pour into it, others will get out of it.  In my own catering service I saw this principal at work.  The simplest appetizers or meals would elicit the type of acclaim one would expect for exotic creations. People were reacting to the mindfulness and love I insist on bringing to my cooking.

Below is yet another example of a dish Mom loved to make.  She used three colors of rice fashioned into a Cedar tree, the symbol of Lebanon.

This approach applied to whatever we do becomes a Meditation.  It lifts us and our companions…it expresses and generates love…and it demonstrates that we are grateful for the skills we’ve been given and want to use them to serve others.

So many of your blogs speak in this way to me.  I congratulate you and thank you.

 Cheers!

~ Hoda

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3 thoughts on “Appealing to the Eye

  1. absolutely lovely, i’m in tears. isn’t it grand to feel and remember that powerful unconditional love our parents passed on to us. hoda, i truly am happy that i stumbled upon this hidden treasure of a blog. keep strong

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