In addition to creating a personal space for me to develop my signature food illustration style around the authentic Italian cuisine and rich food culture, I want this series to also help me further understand Italian ingredients and culinary lifestyle.
Italian Cooking through an Illustrator’s Eyes
Having grown up in a household where food was mostly heavy, spicy and in most instances complicated to make, I’m very curious to learn more about the down-to-earth and rustic ways of the Italian home cooks of this wonderful Mediterranean country.
My first true encounter with the pristine flavours of Italian cooking came during a trip to Capri, an Italian island a few miles away from Napoli (Naples). I was later reminded of that bud-awakening experience on my first home-cooked date with my Italian fiancé, who is now my husband. He cooked me a simple spaghetti Bolognese dish, which I thought was truly out of this world! Having been used to a distorted version of Italian cooking, this simple culinary experience made me want to understand how Italians cook, which is very much connected to their attention to high-quality ingredients and food products.
During our recent Italy Culinary Tour, my husband and I went city-hopping across four Italian regions and 15 cities and towns. Before getting married, I also had the chance to visit Rome, located in the region of Lazio. This means I have so far been to 6 Italian regions, in addition to the Vatican, which is an independent city. These trips have opened my eyes to a lifestyle that was healthy, natural and intuitive.
In total, there are 20 regions in Italy, each with their own distinctive and scrumptious culinary traditions. Interestingly enough, the cooking styles are hyper-regional, meaning you could very easily experience totally varied foodie experiences in towns that are a mere 3 kilometres apart.
Each region also makes its own signature cooking ingredient that is specific to its water and soil quality. A cheese like Parmigiano-Reggiano has its location built into its name and that is because it is made in one city only, Parma. Located in Northern Italy, Parma is a university city in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, famed for this hard cheese in addition to its traditional balsamic vinegar (aceto balsamico).
I’m very excited to see where the upcoming Illustrated Italian Recipes will take me, and I invite you along to discover Italian cooking through an illustrator’s eyes!
Food illustration by illustrator and artist Yaansoon