In decorating, black is for grounding the room, white is for transitioning between one color to another such are usually trims and doors, red is for uplifting energy in a dull environment, green for calming and each of the rest of the colors in the rainbow have a dedicated function, but brown has never been a color that delight in kitchen décor.
Brown in cooking is a totally different matter. Cooking something brown is not that appealing, unless we talk about chocolate in the darkest form of brown, sweet, crunchy, luscious, decadent and even with a hint of salt. Brown breads and brown beers fall in the good brown category that give nutrition and pleasure, but brown steaks don’t. Meat at a fresh state starts with a bright red coloration and by the time is cooked, it should be pinkish inside to retain all the juices and flavors, but never too brown, risking to get a shoe sole.
Brown sauces sold in bottles are full of artificial ingredients and so much sodium. Aside from upsetting someone here who likes that stuff, I would say that brown sauces are good to stain food without personality. Fresh food do not need to be corrupted with brown or any other color sauces. It is clear I don’t agree with people who believe the best food is brown. However there are a few of the brown food I eat all the time: mushrooms, whole-wheat pasta, lentil, truffle and nuts. It is important to combine complementary color schemes when serving dark food – “the eyes want to take part of the feast too” – therefore if it appeals to the eyes it will appeal to the stomach. That’s a fact. Use bright color plates to make the brown food come alive, but don’t forget bright condiments as well.
Enjoy a couple of my simple recipes and colors.
Funghi Trifolati (sautéed)
Use any kind of mushrooms, but mostly crumini, the common dark button mushrooms. Wash them very quickly in cold water, pat dry, cut in half. In a skillet warm up olive oil and garlic, when the garlic is golden, throw in all the cut mushrooms, sauté until they have shrunk a little. Season it with salt, pepper or chili pepper. Add a hand full of fresh chopped Italian parsley. Serve with meat or fish and a robust wine.
Lentil Andalusia Style
For this dish I use dry lentils. Before putting lentils in the boiling water, make sure there are no small rocks inside the bag, as often happens. Boil them in salted water for about 15 minutes and season if necessary with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, chop finely the center core of celery because is tender and more digestible and 1 -2 oranges in small bite sizes. Plate the lentils, add both ingredients on top and a swirl of olive oil.
It cannot be any easier than this! The food in my slide show are all in my books. Ciao,
Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She especially loves to design all those rooms with a “make me feel good” tag attached, such as kitchens and wine grottos, outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms, great rooms and entertainment rooms. She is a public speaker and a mentor. She is also the author of two Italian regional cuisine books and a book on colors, all available here in this site on the Books page and on