When I heard about the new exhibition Comics in the Kitchen at Orbital Comics, I pictured infinite possibilities. Would we see posters picturing the most shocking Chew‘s visions, after he’s eaten a soup of forbidden meat? Or would we be presented with one of Yukihira Soma‘s delicious recipes that would cause visionary ecstasy to whomever tries them? A Marvel themed lasagna feast or a super-powered noodle soup? My imagination went far, but didn’t stray from the comic-themed, as if by being at a comic book store the exhibit should have been about the favourite heroes their customers are familiar with. Instead, the main star was indeed food itself.
Grabbing a bunch of food loving illustrators, the Orbital staff asked them what they enjoy cooking these days, and the result is a collection of mouthwatering illustrations, complete with instructions for the recipe. The styles were various, from manga to monochrome, from water colours to graphic prints, real recipes with exact measurements and ingredients, like Gazpacho or Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe, to recipes and stories of imaginative nature only, like Cooking with the Bread Cat. “At Orbital most of the staff are foodies,” explains one of the organisers, Camila, “so we thought it would be a great idea to celebrate it with an exhibition.” Framed for the viewers, all illustrations are gratifying for fellow illustrators and comic connoisseurs like Orbital usual crowd, but also mouthwatering for the foodie who knows nothing about comics and enjoys good humour and that style of art, with a smile rather than a pretentious, serious face.
“Communication is the creative expression of all that’s within us (…) creativity combines will and consciousness and moves us forward into the future. When we create, we make something that has not existed before.” Forgive us the initial mindful quote, but I had to start with this because I believe that for the first time, during The Savannah opening party, I was asked a very important question: why the blog? Given the mundane occasion, I doubt the question was intended to create such deep thoughts in me. Yet, as I was sitting in the stunning surroundings of the newly opened Savannah restaurant, where everything around whispers introspection, where the relaxing décor and the video projections on the wall make time slow down, the simple truth came as an answer.
We write for self expression, we write because we are larger than life and we need a personal project, we write about food because we cook, and we cook – again – not only because we love eating but because it is another form of self expression. Yes, of course, the aim is to become a better and recognised version of ourselves, and we are aware of the effort and time that takes.
So today was the day when the Italian side of Blender and Basil got a good lesson on Asian cooking: armed with camera and excitement, I headed to the John Lewis quarters to meet the celebrity chef Ken Hom. Unsurprisingly, the first impression is the one of a calm, kind man whose love for food and healthy living is so obvious in his way of sharing it with others. Also, we have two very important things in common: just like me, he can’t drive a car, and his life philosophy is that “to enjoy life and be happy means to eat well”.
He’s the pioneer of the wok, being the one who actually designed one with a flat bottom in 1986, which works perfectly for western kitchens. In spite of his fame, he says that the dishes people ask him to cook the most are always the same: stir fries and egg fried rice. Perhaps because these famous dishes are the most difficult “to get right” for people who don’t know a few tricks, unlike Ken, who demonstrated his ability with the wok today at John Lewis, leaving the public amused with his tricks and sense of humour, but also delighted with the tasting of his spicy hot creations.