A garnish is an item or substance used as a decoration or embellishment accompanying a prepared food dish or drink. In many cases, it may give added or contrasting flavor. Some garnishes are selected mainly to augment the visual impact of the plate, while others are selected specifically for the flavor they may impart. This is in contrast to a condiment which is primarily a prepared sauce product of a specific flavor added to another food item. A food item which is served with garnish may be described as being garni, the French term for 'garnished.' Many garnishes are not intended to be eaten, though for some it is fine to do so. Parsley is an example of a traditional garnish; this pungent green herb has small distinctly shaped leaves, firm stems, and is easy to trim into a garnish.
A garnish makes food or drink items more visually appealing. They may, for example, enhance their color, such as when paprika is sprinkled on a salmon salad. They may give a color contrast, for example when chives are sprinkled on potatoes. They may make a cocktail more visually appealing, such as when a cocktail umbrella is added to an exotic drink, or when a Mai Tai is topped with any number of tropical fruit pieces. Sushi may be garnished with baran, a type of plastic grass or leaf. Sometimes a garnish and a condiment will be used together to finish the presentation of a dish; for example, an entrée could be topped with a sauce, as the condiment, along with a sprig of parsley as a garnish.
A garnish may be so readily identified with a specific dish that the dish may appear incomplete without the garnish. Examples include a banana split sundae with cherries on top or buffalo wings served with celery stick garnish and blue cheese dressing.
Cheese tray garnished with red pepper rings and chicory
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