Colouring of Food

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About
The use of added colour in food, to make it look more appetizing, or for purely aesthetic reasons, or to give it a symbolic character, has been a feature of many cuisines since classical times and probably even earlier.

Red, yellow, and green have been the most usual additions. gold and silver leaf are used in the Indian subcontinent.

Vivid, even lurid, added colours have for long been employed in SE Asia, especially the region which was Indo-China, and the Philippines. The Chinese themselves are fairly exuberant in this respect, for example in some of their coloured bean curd (see tofu) concoctions. The Japanese are more restrained, tending to rely in their delicate arrangements on the natural colours of the foods, placed in subtle contrast with each other; but they are not averse to giving pink preserved ginger (beni shoga) a redder tone, or to colouring their kamaboko (see fish pastes).