Food stories have played a major role in developing my imagination as a kid. My grandmother used to send me off to the land of imagination and beauty with her culturally-rich bedtime stories. She spared no occasion to tell me all about the feasts and foods that the characters of her stories were anxious to cook or savour.
So, in recent months I have learnt a valuable lesson and that is playing to my strengths. My multi-cultural roots and being the granddaughter of this talented foodie, storyteller, embroider, seamstress and spiritual mentor, are what will shape this blog’s posts, including a special series focusing on glorious Middle Eastern food.
The first series I’m launching today is called “Illustrated Middle Eastern Recipes,” and it comes with the tagline “Food stories by a Multi-Cultural Couple.”
In my previous blog prelude, I spoke about how post entries will be spread across an “Illustrated Blog Series” structure, to help create a storytelling atmosphere for each aspect of my illustration blog.
This series illustrates the delicious dishes my husband and I enjoy cooking in our quaint little Mediterranean kitchen.
Moreover, I believe food is one of the most interesting creative expressions that can open up a world of appreciation and enjoyment into other cultures, including our own.
In recent years I have started paying more attention to the authentic recipes I have seen my late grandmother cook whenever I spent the weekend at her cosy home. I have a few scattered pages in my recipe binder that she has patiently dictated to me – all when I was itching to go out and exercise being a teenager. Now more than I ever I see the value in these recipes and I want to illustrate them, in a way to immortalise the food creations of a wonderful woman who has been my first and foremost spiritual and cultural mentor.
Middle Eastern Food Stories with an Italian Rationale
This series is also in collaboration with my Italian-Levantine husband, who happens to know a lot more than I could ever imagine about rarely-publicised Middle Eastern food.
With roots south of the Mediterranean, my hubby is an excellent home cook specialising in authentic Turkish, Lebanese, and Syrian recipes that hail from obscure towns and villages across the Levant. His dishes have an Italian undertone to them, as he brings the “fresh ingredients” rationale to every bite he cooks up in our small kitchen.
At first I wanted to take photos of his delicious dishes to document them. But then I thought why not bring our two worlds together by attempting to illustrate what he cooks! And so the idea of this series was brought to life.
From Waraq Enab (rolled grape vine leaves) to Turkish meat pies, this series will bring mouthwatering recipes that use fresh and organic ingredients, while avoiding canned foods at all costs.
To make these recipes, you’ll need fresh ingredients, or those you can find in your own pantry (like rice and Zaa’tar), with a sprinkle of curiosity and pinch of love.
About the Illustration Style
It’s not really me to stick to one style and keep on repeating it over and over again. So in broad terms, the illustration style I have in mind for this food stories series is a combination of botanically-rich art with a nod to the Mediterranean aesthetic.
In our home, we use handmade ceramics from Tunisia, Morocco, and Jordan. We also like to spruce up our culinary experience with the addition of table-settings from Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. My illustrations will incorporate some of these Middle Eastern elements.
My ultimate aim is to give a more authentic feel of the recipes in these illustrations so that you can relate to the culture, in all its modern-time allure, as well as the food.
Food illustration by illustrator and artist Yaansoon