With color on my mind, this past weekend I cooked up a dinner party and menu with a color theme - the red, white and green of the Mexican flag. Inspired by the cookbook, Frida's Fiesta's - Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo by Marie-Pierre Colle and Guadalupe Rivera, I've been experimenting with the recipes and themes in the book. A very beautiful cookbook, the photos and stories are inspiring. The recipes. . . well, they remind me of my abuelita's (grandmother's) recipes, something very important is missing from most of them. The missing item is usually an ingredient, amount or technique that ranges between crucial to the success of the recipe to a minor taste problem. Maybe the recipe editor had more to do with this than Frida did, but nonetheless, reading her cookbook reminds me of my abuelita's passionate artistic temperament (she was a concert pianist and gifted chef). The recipes that my abuelita gave me were always more of a suggestion than a solution.
Brilliant colors and stark value contrasts between dark and light with the addition of warm earthen tones make up the complex palette of colors associated the Mexican Celebration of Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead). Not only are these colors seen among the flowers and decorations that make up the various ofrendas (altars), foods and decor that are part of the celebration, the colors metaphorically and symbolically mirror the mystical underpinnings of the Dia de los Muertos celebration.
Color use is not a slam dunk. I see this with manufacturers who put a "Latin Color Palette" on a set of sheets or towels, slap a Spanish name on it and expect that they've done their part reaching the Latino market. This is especially annoying when the front person isn't obviously Latino. A few years ago Sears and Ty Pennington did this with a design in his licensed signature line of bedding.