"Simple, attractive, and visual." That's how this 4-million-member food subreddit describes its content. The only correction I'd make is to add the word "addicting." From pink cake pops that look like something Wes Anderson's characters would eat to comically oversized mozzarella sticks just waiting to take a marinara bath, it's impossible to stop scrolling!
A few months ago, my colleague Jonas wrote a piece about this online community. Drooling. And I read it. Also drooling. But since it's so big, you can only imagine how many more pics of delicious-looking dishes have appeared on it during that time. Enough for Bored Panda to make a follow-up publication, I'll tell you that.
Mind you, going through this list on an empty stomach is quite the challenge. It might start howling out of jealousy.
To learn more about the connection between aesthetics and eating, we contacted Helen Best-Shaw, the creator of Fuss Free Flavours, a comprehensive food blog centered around achievable and affordable meals for busy people on a budget who don't want to compromise on flavor.
"Some of the greatest dishes are the simplest, but they use top quality ingredients," Best-Shaw told Bored Panda. "I think that the more simple the dish is then the better the ingredients need to be – think about a cheese board – if you get a couple of good cheeses which are perfectly ripe and serve with good bread and some interesting crackers, you have everything you need, but cheap cheese and crackers are just boring."
Another thing that makes a difference to both taste and looks is texture. "[It's] something that many people don't think about. A great dish will often have a variety of textures, crunch and crisp you can both hear and feel, silky smooth sauces, unctuous fall apart cuts of meat."
Best-Shaw said that she also likes a contrast of temperatures: "One of my favorite desserts is simple homemade ice cream, with a hot chocolate sauce poured over, just bliss!"
I Made Rainbow Cupcakes… Couldn’t Be Happier With The Result!
My Girlfriend Made Cookies For Our Upcoming Camping Trip To Glacier National Park
All of the work you see in the pictures isn't just for Instagram. "We eat with our eyes as much as our taste buds and most people will enjoy a dish more if it looks appetizing," the food writer explained.
"Just a little bit of effort in presentation can make all the difference – all you need to do is serve it carefully, think about color (would carrots or broccoli look better with a main, for example) and add some garnish. I always have a bunch of fresh parsley in a jug in the fridge – it keeps for at least 2 weeks – and snip some up for garnish when I serve."
"Pretty plates and tableware help," Best-Shaw added. "Classic white plates work with almost everything – keep it simple."
But if you want to see what happens when people try too hard and the presentation gets out of hand, check out our publication on We Want Plates, a project founded by Ross McGinnes that calls a "global crusade against serving food on bits of wood and roof slates."
My Grandma Held My Hand Through My First Attempt At Baklava
However, these "perfect" pictures shouldn't discourage you from experimenting in the kitchen. "Firstly, it is meant to be fun, so enjoy your cooking," Best-Shaw said.
For everyone who wants to take their skills to another level, the blogger suggests making it a habit. "Cook every day, buy a good knife, read the recipe from start to finish before you start to cook, and check you have all the ingredients."
"There is a reason that professional chefs focus on mis en place, or the set up before cooking. Get your equipment out and ingredients measured and prepared before you start to cook; especially if it is a new recipe or technique, so you can focus on the cooking."
I’m 15 And I Just Cooked My First Batch Of French Fries And They Were Delicious
Assorted Bonbons I Made In Pastry School Last Week!
But with that being said, remember that cooking is not a race. "Don't try and take too much on at once. I have tried to make three complicated dishes I'd never made for a dinner party before and it was a disaster. Once I'd practiced each dish separately, I can pull the same menu off with ease," Best-Shaw shared her experience.
Lastly, make sure that you have enough time on your hands to go through a recipe with your undivided attention. "Many recipes underestimate the time it takes for the average home cook to prepare ingredients, ovens and stove tops to heat up," Best-Shaw said. "Unless you have made it before, add an extra 50% on to the time taken."
The chef highlighted that food is one of the great pleasures of life, and there are no rules. So whatever you do, just enjoy preparing and eating it.