22 June 2011
Illustrated secrets from nana's Mexican kitchen
Think Mexican and you may not think of "Day of The Dead Bread" - but that's just what you'll find in a beautifully illustrated book of recipes from RMIT University alumnus Daniella Germain.
My Abuela's Table features fabulous recipes and beautiful illustrations.
RMIT alumnus Daniella Germain with her new book.
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A collection of her Mexican grandmother's recipes, My Abuela's Table, started off as a final-year project during Ms Germain's Bachelor of Design (Communication Design) studies at RMIT.
The project involved creating a 64-page book about any topic.
"Five years before, mum had given me copies of all my abuela's (grandmother's) recipes," Ms Germain said.
"I thought it was a good opportunity to put something unique together."
One of the judges of the project was a managing director from book publisher, Hardie Grant.
"Six weeks later, I got an email saying they wanted to publish my book," she said. "I couldn't believe it!"
Ms Germain's book stands out for the distinctive watercolour and ink artwork accompanying each recipe, giving it a slightly eccentric, personal feel.
The illustrations also poke fun: pollo en vino blanco (chicken in white wine) is accompanied by an image of a chicken passed out with a wine bottle under its wing.
"Before I started the book I didn't really feel like I had much of an illustration style, but I started experimenting with my own interpretations of the meals, and my own style developed throughout the book."
Ms Germain's Mexican mother emigrated to Australia at 18 but her abuela still lives in Mexico.
While she's travelled to Mexico seven times, language barriers meant she never really spoke much with her grandmother so food was often the bridge between them.
"Mexico is a very food-orientated culture - some of my best memories are sitting around the table, sharing my grandmother's food," she said.
The food in Mexico is very different to what passes as Mexican-style food in Australia.
"In Australia it's more the Tex-Mex style, with lots of sour cream and cheese," she said.
"The Mexican food I grew up with is very light, there are lots of tomato and seafood dishes.
"But there are restaurants in Melbourne like Mamacita's that are getting much closer to real traditional Mexican flavours."
Ms Germain is thrilled with the book and so is her abuela. "I think she feels like a bit of a celebrity! She's very happy to be sharing her cooking with the world."
My Abuela's Table ($35, Hardie Grant) is available in bookstores now.
The book features Ms Germain's distinctive original illustrations.