There’s something about looking at a plate of delicious food that’s almost better than tasting it first hand. Whether you’re drooling over the cooking channel or scrolling through an exceptional Instagram page, an imaginary dish is infinitely tastier than a real one. Yasra Khoker understands this fascination and is now giving us all intense food envy in her travel and food blog, Doodlenomics. She was inspired by her niece and nephew in UAE when they would spend hours copying pictures of dishes from local restaurant fliers. Trained as an interior designer, Khoker has been sketching for over 15 years but it was only after this she conceived the idea of how to marry her love of art and food.
Art had always been a part of her life, and even as she grew up, her family encouraged creativity in all its forms. “We used to have weekly family art competitions with prizes where every family member created something so we would all mostly draw but mom would use gum art paper to create beautiful grape vines and all kinds of other foliage.” she recalls. This approach changed her attitude towards art forever, “It wasn’t something we thought of as ‘extra’ but as an essential.” As a designer, art continued to be a part of her life, but Doodlenomics addressed the issue of organisation “It was an effort to bring everything together in one place and for people who like my work or share common interest to connect and engage.”
She began her journey by eating out for a month when she first relocated to Jaipur. “Food, art and travel were three separate things earlier that came together organically as a way to help me adjust to a new place- Jaipur. I took to sketching streets and vendors while walking through streets in an attempt to understand the city and connect with it in my own peculiar way.” It’s not a recipe book or list of recommendations, simply a chronicle of food and travel, where it’s an airplane meal or a Goan fish thali, everything makes an appearance. “It started out as a personal exercise and helped me discover my passion for food illustration. One year, in 2015 I only sketched food and had managed to fill in my journal almost every restaurant/ cafe in Jaipur.”
Along the way her humble sketchbook transformed into a work of art and her book ‘Food Swings’ was realised. “ It’s a journal I kept over a 10-day period while visiting Hyderabad, Goa and Mumbai, and has buildings, food, market places, souvenirs, basically everything that caught my eye or fascinated me.The ceremony around eating makes it special and discovering new flavours while traveling is a wonderful bonus.”
She embraces the medium as an opportunity to connect with people on a common level, food is a great equaliser and it’s allowed her to explore the world from a new perspective. “Getting to know others and just a tiny fragment of their stories is quite humbling. It grounds you and makes you more observant and appreciative of each person’s journey. Especially in the current climate of paranoia, it would be best if we saw one another as humans, alike in our hopes, dreams and fears instead of believing we’re so different we can’t coexist.”
Though at its core, a beautiful artistic journey, Doodlenomics is so much more than a simple collection of illustrations, it highlights the vast potential of travel in our country.
“Meeting new people, even if just for a few minutes while having tea, can change something inside you. This feeling is indescribable and that’s probably why I sketch and this remains my most favourite part of this entire process,” Yasra signs off.