There’s nothing quite like a bowl of great soup to nourish the body, mind and soul. Whether it’s a refreshing gazpacho, a hearty goulash or just plain ol’ chicken noodle, soup has a special place in world culture. Foodie magazine Lucky Peach recently decided to publish an issue devoted to Vietnamese pho, and tapped nomadic Swedish illustrator and ADC Member Petra Eriksson to bring it to life.
“I love Lucky Peach, as I think they portray food culture in a new and inspiring way and I was super excited to work on this piece for them,” says Petra. “I did some research on the soup to learn more about its history and to understand the process of making a really good pho, something that takes about 8 to 10 hours.”
The issue also features the stories of five pho chefs, whom Petra also illustrated. “The interviews themselves mostly focused on their life journeys, but the connection to the dish was always there in the background as a key part of their family history,” she explains. “Three of the chefs had fled from Vietnam during or a few years after the war, and the other two had been born just a few years after their parents did the same journey. For me, reading theses stories about how they had to leave everything behind and struggle to start up fresh somewhere completely new hit me extra hard, since this is the situation for so many people around the world today. All of the chefs started off by working with something completely different, but ended up starting their own pho restaurants to in different ways honor their family members, traditions and to build something for themselves.”
“For me, reading theses stories about how they had to leave everything behind and struggle to start up fresh somewhere completely new hit me extra hard…”
For the chefs’ portraits, Petra wanted to go a little bit more detailed, adding extra colors to their faces to emphasize their strong and warm personalities. “I read through the interviews again and wrote down a lot of words to describe their personalities and then I did some additional small illustrations to add more visual content to their stories,” she explains. “And when I worked on the main illustration, I felt that the most important thing was to show how the pho and the art of cooking connected the family together. building up a set with pieces from their stories. I didn’t want to get too detailed here, but I still wanted it to be possible to recognize parts like the people escaping on boats, families living in the jungle for years and then ending up in big unknown cities far away from home.”
Tags: Petra Eriksson