I don’t think I need to introduce Frida Kahlo, possibly the most popular female painter of all time. Her deeply personal paintings, tragic life story, revolutionary spirit and extraordinary appearance made her an international cultural icon. Kahlo’s colourful attire, elaborate headdresses and gorgeous jewellery, strongly representing Mexican folklore, gave her the status of a celebrity and a fashion icon. This is evidently visible on all of social media nowadays in the form of a phenomenon called “Fridamania”.
Frida is often wrongly regarded as surrealist. As she herself insisted, she didn’t paint dreams, she painted her own reality. Her colourful paintings, of which nearly one-third are self-portraits, are raw and disturbing expressions of physical and psychological suffering. Influenced by indigenous Mexican culture, her mixed German-Mexican ancestry and nationalism of her famous husband, Diego Rivera, Kahlo also used her art to explore questions of gender, class, race and national identity in Mexican society.
A horrendous bus accident at the age of 18, resulting in nearly fatal injuries, left her crippled and in a great deal of pain for the rest of her life. The stormy marriage with unfaithful Rivera only added to her suffering. Kahlo expressed this in particular in her self-portraits which are loaded with strong emotions, representing the female experience in a harsh and beautiful manner.
Frida once said: “There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”
“Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light. Tragedy is the most ridiculous thing.”
– Frida Kahlo
Raw Vegan Zoodles
I recently came across an article in Saveur magazine “The art of the meal” about the grandson of Diego and Frida who dedicated himself to recreating the dishes served at their festive dinner parties. The article includes a link to a recipe of one of the dishes – zucchini salad, which comes from the book “Frida’s Fiestas” by Guadalupe Rivera and Marie-Pierre Cole. This book is on my wish list.
The article and Frida’s painting “Sun and Life” inspired me to make a dish with zucchini, which is not a typical Mexican dish, but reflects the vibrant colours of Mexico and Kahlo’s paintings.
In “Sun and Life” the sun is life-giving power. At the first sight the painting seems peaceful and harmonic, even happy. Only if you look closer you’ll see that the sun’s third eye is crying. Behind it there are strange plants in shape of wombs and one of them has a foetus inside. The foetus is crying too.
Frida was unable to have children due to her accident and her sadness and longing for motherhood was often the subject of her paintings.
This painting has a dual nature reminding us of both, life and death, happiness and sorrow. The sun, the supreme energy source of life on our planet, gives and takes.
Nevertheless I wanted to concentrate on happy colours and fresh and healthy summer meal. Let the sunshine in! A toast to Frida who despite all the misery knew how to celebrate life.
It’s finally summer and zucchini are in season now. Although cooked as vegetable zucchini is botanically a fruit. Like all squash it has its roots in Americas. The zucchini we know today was developed in the 19th century in Italy. “Zucca” is an Italian word for squash.
Zucchini is usually cooked, baked or grilled, but I decided to go back to basics and prepare it raw. This is a very healthy option and especially interesting to those who are on a diet. With a help of this handy spiral slicer you can easily create your own zucchini noodles – Zoodles!
In making of the red pesto I also chose for the super healthy option, raw vegan. It’s very easy and quick to make, just blend it all together.
You can use cherry tomatoes as well, it will make your pesto sweeter. It is important that you chose the best quality tomatoes. The taste of the pesto depends on it.
This is a simple vegan version of the classic pesto rosso. I didn’t use anything to replace the Parmesan. In that way I managed to keep this dish raw. It is of course possible to add some cheese or cheese substitute, you will only need to watch the salt level, and it could be that you won’t need to add any salt at all.
Simple and absolutely delicious. Enjoy it with some Margarita on a hot summer day!
- 4-5 zucchini
- 3 Tbsp salt
For red pesto:
- 250g grape tomatoes, few set aside for garnish
- 150g semi-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
- 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
- handful fresh basil
- 50g raw pine nuts, plus extra for garnish
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to season
Put all the ingredients for pesto in a food processor and pulse until well blended but still textured. Season with salt and pepper.
Trim the ends of the zucchini and make thick zoodles with handheld vegetable spiral slicer or Spiralizer. Discard the inner parts with seeds.
Put the zoodles in a colander and cover with plenty of salt. Toss and leave for about 30 minutes to let the moisture leak ( sweat) out. Rinse thoroughly with cold running water, gently squeeze the water out and pad dry with a towel. If you’re in a hurry you may want to skip this step but then the zoodles need to be eaten right away otherwise they will get watery. For this quick version you’ll only need 1-1,5 zucchini per person.
Place the zucchini noodles in a large bowl and blend with red pesto.
Divide the zoodles into deep plates and garnish with a few pieces of tomato, pine nuts and basil leaves.