Very few people know how to make a proper vegetable tray. Many have tried - but most fail.
I know what you're thinking. How hard is it to throw some veggies on a plate with some ranch dressing? Or for the less motivated, grab a plastic tray at the grocery store.
That's where you would be wrong.
After my father died, my mother tried to start a catering business. My sisters and I were required to help. We each found our particular niche. Charmaine is artistic, so she was able to carve apples and other food items into things like swans and people.
I'm not sure what Erin did. I think she just walked around with trays of hor's doevres looking pretty.
For some reason, I had a HUGE problem with serving people (It could be that "false pride" Charmaine keeps saying I am cursed with). But that's neither here nor there.
I discovered that my particular talent was repeatedly plunging my hands into ice cold water until my hands were blue in order to grab elegantly carved crudites that had spent the night in ice water and then placing them in an aesthetically-pleasing (some might say anal) fashion on a tray covered with leaf lettuce and then completed by clumps of parsley separating each type of vegetable. My veggie tray is a beautiful thing. Seriously. I sooo wish I had a picture!
You might think that the tray pictured above is a nice veggie tray. You would be wrong. Look at the carrots and celery - they're not even stacked straight with the same side down. There is no reason why one should be able to see the stalks of broccoli. Each flower should be placed in such a way as to hide the stalks of the previously placed flowers. I'm too distressed to even address the problems with the cucumbers!
The problem now is that I cannot look at a vegetable tray without mourning the beauty that it could be. And, God forbid, I am MAKING a veggie tray. The process of cutting the veggies in such a manner that they will flair in a particular manner following a period of time submerged in ice water, followed by the meticulous placement of each carrot and broccoli flowerand others, followed by parsley separating each type of veggie, around the outside of the tray, and between the veggies and the dip, takes AT LEAST three hours which consist entirely of me screaming profanities at the fricking radishes that didn't turn into roses.
I know that sounds insane to most of you. (It actually sounds insane to me, too.) My husband picks up on my stress (God knows how), and asks why I can't just put veggies on a fricking tray like a normal person. (You would think he would know by now that I am not normal).
I keep doing this, even when mere mortals have no idea the time and effort required to produce such a thing of beauty, and, therefore, do not lavish me with appropriate compliments. I understand. They haven't done it. But at the end of the night, if the veggie tray remains mostly intact, I have been known to slip into clinical depression.
I'm not a perfectionist. In fact, I put very little effort into cooking (as my husband would attest). But a veggie tray? That's when the gloves come off.
Grocery produce guy - be afraid! I have a party coming up.