Garnished food is aesthetically pleasing and, by stimulating the gastric juices, it makes the food pleasant and easy to digest.

A garnish is nearly always edible and must be compatible in flavour with the main ingredient of the dish, although it may introduce a contrast in texture and colour.

Salad vegetables are often used as garnishes in cooking today – carrots, radishes, cucumbers, spring onions , watercress, gherkins and olives being cut into fancy shapes or sliced neatly to enhance both cold and hot dishes. Fruit, herbs and hard-boiled eggs also add colour and contrast to both hot and cold dishes.

Soups may be garnished with croutons, French bread cut into rings and toasted, and fresh herbs or finely chopped or sliced vegetables.

Garnishes in classic French cookery can be almost as important as the dish itself.

Garnishes are divided into two cat-egories : simple and composite.

Simple garnishes have one component, for example com-on-the-cob, cucumber, fennel, spinach or noodles cooked in butter.

Composite garnishes consist of several ingredients blended together. Bourguig- nonne (glazed onions and mushrooms tossed in butter); Jardiniere (fresh garden vegetables, such as carrots, turnips, French beans and peas, cooked in butter); Rossini (slices of truffle and pate de foie gras sauteed in butter); and Walewska (lobster and truffle slices) are all examples of composite garnishes.

Garnishes are served either arranged around the main ingredients of a dish, or separately.