Illustrator Marcella Kriebel Shares A World of Colors and Food
-From Edible DC's Fall Issue. Story by Marcella Kriebel, special to Edible DC.
It is a great time of year for buying fresh local pumpkins. There are so many heirlooms varieties of squash and pumpkin that are great for cooking, that choosing one is half the fun. We're sharing "Locro de Zapallo" from illustrator and cook Marcella Kriebel as an inspiration for a fall soup. The other recipes she mentions can be found in our digital issue here at edibledc.com!
I’ve been blending the concepts of travel and art for most of my life. I remember making my first journal—actually, a sketchbook full of illustrations—documenting a family car trip to Yellowstone when I was 8 years old. It must have been fun, because I’ve been doing it ever since.
Fast-forward 10 years to college, where I majored in studio art and anthropology with a minor in Spanish. Since graduation, my interests and educational background have come together in a complementary way; I’m actually using my education and have been fortunate to earn a living from it.
My cookbook, Mi Comida Latina, is comprised of 100 hand-lettered, illustrated recipes inspired by my travels throughout Central and South America and documents the recipes I collected while cooking with Latin American home cooks and chefs. I found that cooking with the locals was the best way to understand their unique cultures and form friendships. The cookbook allowed me to share their recipes in an authentic way, beginning with family and friends and now to a wider audience.
I’ve always enjoyed exploring art in just about any medium, and especially drawing. I carry a sketchbook most everywhere and wouldn’t consider traveling without one. Whenever I learn a new recipe, I sketch little images in the margins to complement it. As I worked on the final cookbook illustrations, I used watercolor to illuminate the pages, as I do in my travel sketchbooks. I used one little two- by six-inch watercolor set for the majority of the cookbook, and discovered how versatile it truly could be. It was also fun to hand letter and vary the type of text for each recipe. I considered each page from a design standpoint; it’s always a challenge to have the recipe look colorful and visually appealing while including the technical information needed to make a truly tasty dish.
I didn’t necessarily set out to be a food illustrator, but I do enjoy drawing and painting food, whether it’s a beautiful Salade Niçoise or a portrait of the vegetables in the nightshade family. In 2014, I challenged myself to produce a daily illustration and called it Art Every Day, featuring all kinds of foods, from a single artichoke to a steaming bowl of udon noodles. These paintings form the basis of my current print collection of over 60 designs available in an open edition. So I’m still growing and learning both about food and cooking and illustration, and it is a process I love.
I chose the following recipes to share from Mi Comida Latina. The first is Causa, which is a variation on classic Peruvian dish. Salsa Roja is one of the many, many methods of making a classic Mexican tomato salsa, but the key is to blacken the tomatoes, which lends a tremendous flavor to the salsa.
Finally, Locro de Zapallo showcases pumpkin, but can be made of a variety of ingredients. “Locro” simply means stew; this was an Ecuadorian version but others can be found throughout South America—every home cook has his or her favorite recipe.