Like everyone I get my fair share of unsolicited emails… those that you swiftly flush away with the ‘delete’ button, or find slipped into your ‘junk’ mailbox without even a rap at the door …some of them are surprisingly wonderful though. This one that had erroneously assigned itself as junk was an email from a commissioning editor, saying that her client had ‘found me on twitter’ and wanted me to illustrate his book! Would I please consider it.

Here’s where I have to be completely honest: as a freelance illustrator, it’s quite often me who initiates contact with possible clients, that hopefully then flower into future collaborations. I love this because, not only can I handpick those I feel inspired to work with, but also because I get to actually meet some truly wonderful and inspiring souls in the process, many of whom I can now number amongst my friends. So when I get a call, it turns the tables a little. But it’s fun and very flattering (can never have enough of that… illustrators usually have egos small enough to curl into a wren’s egg).

Dino Joanrides is the author in question, and having agreed to take a look we spoke on the phone. And we spoke for quite a while. I think we covered everything from real pasta to butter that comes in tins (who knew), from the ‘right’ kind of parma carving knife to wild boar, and italian sheep that look like goats. During that call I realised how little I know about Italian ingredients and just what an encyclopaedic knowledge Dino has. I saw what a great and essential work this book was going to be. I said ‘yes’.

Here are a few sneaky peaks at some of the illustrations I did to decorate Dino’s erudite writing! Hopefully I’ve done him justice!

It’s a been a joy to illustrate. Inevitably, I now want to restock my fridge and cupboard!

It’s available to buy in ‘all good book shops’ and here.