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From the food editor: Here's why it might be better to photograph your food before eating it

Spicy, Garlicky Cashew Chicken brings together some simple yet potent flavors.

MICHELLE STARK | Times

Spicy, Garlicky Cashew Chicken brings together some simple yet potent flavors.

The next time you see someone Instagramming their meal at the next booth over, don't scoff. They might be onto something.

Research published recently in the Journal of Consumer Marketing says that taking a picture of your food before you eat it can make the food taste better.

The research included three studies, the first of which ended up showing that participants who took a picture of their food — in this case, red velvet cake — thought it was tastier than those who didn't. Another study explored that effect on healthy foods, and was able to show that when participants were made aware other people were eating healthy stuff and then took a picture of it, they considered the healthy food more tasty.

As someone who does this often, I don't think it's the actual photograph that's important here. I think it's that the act of pausing, snapping a pic, then eating your food allows you to appreciate it a bit more. When you take a picture of something, you notice it — its composition, its textures, its colors.

And, in the case of those results about healthy food mentioned above, it seems like posting that photo of our healthy plate on social media and seeing others do the same might also make us think what we are eating tastes better.

The lesson here is that, with or without an iPhone camera, take some time to look at your plate of food the next time you sit down to eat.

This can be especially important at restaurants that take the time to make their dishes look as good as they taste. But it's also important to do at home, after you've spent an hour putting a meal together. After you plate the meal, pause before scarfing it down and appreciate what you've created, how it looks, how it smells.

Try it before you sit down to eat this week's recipe, which combines some simple yet potent flavors. Chicken legs (or thighs) are coated in a chunky mixture of cashews, garlic and other seasonings then broiled until crispy and served with fresh herbs and lime wedges. It's a feast for all of the senses.

Contact Michelle Stark at mstark@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8829. Follow @mstark17.

easy

Spicy, Garlicky Cashew Chicken

Spicy, Garlicky Cashew Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 cup roasted, salted cashew nuts
  • 6 tablespoons chopped cilantro, with some stems
  • ¼ cup canola or safflower oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, sliced (discard seeds or not, to taste)
  • Juice of 1 lime, plus lime wedges for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds chicken thighs and/or drumsticks

Instructions

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine nuts, 2 tablespoons cilantro, oil, garlic, soy sauce, sugar, jalapeno, lime juice and 2 tablespoons water. Blend until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.
  2. Season chicken all over with salt and pepper. Smear on enough cashew mixture to thoroughly coat pieces. (Set aside any remaining mixture.) Let marinate at room temperature while you heat grill or broiler, or refrigerate for up to 12 hours before cooking.
  3. Preheat broiler or grill. Grill or broil chicken, turning frequently, until it is crisp and golden on the outside and done on the inside (cut a small nick to check), 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle chicken with remaining cilantro and serve with lime wedges and remaining cashew mixture. Serves 4.
Source: New York Times

From the food editor: Here's why it might be better to photograph your food before eating it 03/14/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 11:24am]
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