So… aside from being a web designer/graphic/digital illustrator/painter I’ll have you know that I’m also not too shabby a cook! 😉 To me cooking food is just as much an art form as say, painting with oils or sketching in a notepad… it’s about recognizing spices and blending ingredients to create magic, just as one would do while experimenting with colors, forms and various techniques… The last of 4 children, I remember being put in the kitchen as early as two by my wonderful mother who is still the most amazing cook I’ve ever known… ask her friends too… they’d agree! My very first job was stirring batters… and then licking the bowl of course! and eventually it progressed from prep-work to carving veggies for plate decorations.
My fondest memories are in fact of the “Bigi” women in the kitchen hand cranking our trusty pasta machine, all of us standing in a line to catch the sheets of pasta that continued to grow right down to the very last hole! it was team work and we had to work fast to make sure the pasta didn’t dry out too fast depending on what we were making! On those nights you’d walk into our kitchen and find 3 foot long paper thin sheets of pasta hanging from every chair, counter-top and table available! We’d laugh and talk and have food fights in between serious work and around 2am, tired and exhausted she’d still find the energy to make us all french toast with powdered sugar which we’d eat sipping on brandy or a glass of wine (no, silly! not when i was TWO! although as with any Italian family my water at dinner time was always tinged with pink since dad would pour a few drops of wine in my water, as is tradition) I owe a lot to my mother for having given me my artistic and culinary abilities… she was and is (70 and still going about it like she was 30!!) a Jane of all trades, and while i will be more humble to say i might be master of just some, she is master of all… especially her unruly children!!!! =) “Ti voglio tanto bene mammetta mia!!!!”<3 =) I still can’t get over the fact that today we spend hundreds of dollars a year for gym memberships when our mothers and grandmothers stayed thin and fit because they did everything by hand!!! They cooked and cleaned without all those expensive gadgets (gosh, i still to this day will use a wine bottle to roll dough or a glass for a cookie cutter… if i need fancy shapes it’s called a knife! why spend so much money for the convenience when creating and cooking can be such a joyful experience!) and still worked all day and tended to their families at night…
So last week I was up for 48 hours straight preparing for a Moroccan themed birthday party for my roommate and myself. Not only did I cook Moroccan inspired (and quite authentic minus a few artistic licenses I permitted myself!) food but I also created some graphics for the invite! Just as i don’t use any pre-made clip-art for my website designs I also refuse to use anything from a box or that is pre-made… now you see the connection more clearly…. what was on the menu you ask?
I made homemade Pita bread (yes, really…. flour, yeast… the whole nine yards!), 3 types of homemade Hummus (i bought dried chickpeas aka garbanzo beans which i soaked for 24 hrs and then boiled for another 2 hours on low heat… more time but less money and better tasting than buying a can of them and just blending them! it allows me to add things during the entire process that gives my dishes a unique flavor… unachievable by using the canned stuff!): one was a roasted eggplant hummus (everyone’s’ favorite because they didn’t know it was eggplant… sneaky me! lol!!!), black olive hummus and (bliss!) Sun dried tomato Hummus. I also made a pearl barely and parsley salad with lots of homemade grilled Mediterranean veggies, couscous with zucchine and pine nuts, ginger chicken nuggets (not Moroccan but a sure favorite!!!) Rose and Orange blossom water flavored Turkish Delight and an almond Baklava… the only thing that came pre-packaged was the phylo dough! 😉
It was a ladies only night and we not only feasted and danced to Arab music but we also had a lovely woman come in to do our henna! (her name is Jodi and you can book her for your own parties or for private sessions through her website:
Here is one of the graphics I created for the party using Adobe Illustrator, although, due to limitations with Evite.com I used a simpler version of it:
her’s the simpler version since the files were compressed so much and I didn’t have much control on its display:
It worked well with our color theme which was jewel toned and my rooomie Amber spray painted palm leaves from the yard to make golden fans! The whole thing was a huge hit!!! =) I have to say that although Kenya isn’t exactly in North Africa we have enough of a muslim presence there for me to have found it easy enough to draw the background cityscape (reminiscent of Mombasa, Kenya’s primary port) seeing as Mosques were scattered across Nairobi very predominantly… I remember in fact being awakened every morning by the Muezzins’ call to prayer… it was a romatic serenade which i loved listening to and would always get me up and ready to go to school since it was a good 45 minutes away from our house. We had a Mosque across the valley from our house and I still hear him to this day when i go back to visit… although they have been replaced by cds… legend has it (but don’t quote me!) that back in the day Muezzins used to have their eyes carved out because they stood at the top of the mosques’ tower and so would have been able to see into the women’s courtyards, violating their privacy and islamic law.
Everything in this world is intrinsic unto itself…. its all about finding our very own connections… and I have found mine… whereby cooking and art become one! If you live in the South Bay Area, San Jose, CA and you would like a caterer for your cocktail or dinner party do email me: email@example.com or visit my website: http://www.madmatatus.com/contact.html and use the contact form! and I can make all the arrangements for you, including help with any decor or table displays! I’ll cook the food right in your kitchen so it’ll be like having a personal chef for a night! i also do birthday and special occasion cakes, using only the finest ingredients from Belgian chocolate to homemade marzipan and European liqueurs (please specify if it is a childrens’ party as my cakes are very European by standards!) Because of my deep understanding of food, my excellent palette and my pure passion for cooking I can amke you anything from truly authentic sushi and sashimi to the best tasting homemade pasta dishes from nothern Italy that you’ve ever had! 😉 below is a small sample of dishes I have made recently for dinner parties! as we say in Italy… Buon Appetito da Francesca!!!!