Originally Posted by TheBaron
The plating is quite universal: Do what you feel like looks best. That has nothing to do with style, aside from japanese (mostly Sushi, though).
Styles of cooking differs in the foods that you use: Do you follow what the season has to offer, do you buy national foods, or imported foods. Then comes the manner in which you prepare your food. French food is all about the sauce, for instance, while Italian food is all about the pasta, or the tomato. Danish food is mostly about potatoes in some way (we have a fuckload of differnt kinds of way to prepare potatoes), German food is about sausages, pork and flesh in general.
For example: Take asparagus, chicken, cream, butter and spices. In Denmark, we would make something, locally known as "tarteletter". Tarteletter is basically Sugarless Puff Pastry, shaped into some kind of eadible bowl, in which we fill a stew of chicken, asparagus, and a sauce made from the chicken stock and cream. In France, using the same ingredients, they would pan-roast the chicken, give it a crunchy skin, Grill the asparagus, make a sauce using butter and cream, and probably some kind of carbon-garnish, usually some sort of potato. Same ingredients, different styles of food.
I'm at fault for not clarifying my point. Stateside regardless of the cultural discipline that the food preparation is from, each and every one has two styles... comfort/hearty and gourmet. We're seeing more and more of it here because of fusion-style restaurants. And the difference is plating. Take for instance the city of New Orleans (Nawhlins to locals). You can go to an upscale restaurant and grab some great beignets, jambalaya, or fried river cats. And you know how the plating will be. Or you can go to several "hole in the walls", and get the same food, same quality (sometimes better IMO), messier plating, and definitely much cheaper.
I don't know how to scientifically support this, but to me, food from the local "hole in the walls" is better than the upscales and chains, because it seems like the local chef puts a little "love" in whatever they cook. I mean, I've literally seen a barbeque competition where two neighbors claim to use the same spice rub on some baby-back ribs, same sauce recipe, cooked at same temp for the same amount of time, and one tasted better than the other. Now I know we could go the temp. variation route, but in a competition like that, it's extremely hard to prove with the correlation to the carmelization of the rub and sauce on the ribs. Sometimes it is what it is... that little bit of love.