When the 10th anniversary of her going “all vegetables, all the time,” came up this summer, Deb Dusseau knew she wanted to permanently mark the occasion on her body. So, she called Portland tattoo artist Chris Dingwell.
“I wanted them on me,” Dusseau said. “I think they’re beautiful.”
Now, the vegetarian sports an eggplant, peppers, mushrooms, peas, greens, onions, a radish and more than a few tomatoes on her right arm, from her shoulder down to her wrist.
It took several sessions to finish the work, and she couldn’t be happier with the results. Dusseau, who already had many other tattoos, left the artistic interpretation of the veggies up to Dingwell. He chose to do them in a French illustration style — reminiscent of an old seed catalog.
It may sound obvious now, but giving up meat gave her a whole new appreciation for vegetables, Dusseau said. As she began to experiment with her own vegetarian cooking, getting further afield from the unseasoned, steamed greenery she was raised on, she was amazed.
“It sounds so lame,” she said. “But I was like, ‘This is what eggplant really tastes like? This is what an artichoke actually tastes like?'”
Growing up, she’d only ever had eggplant rolled in breadcrumbs and slathered in marinara or artichoke hearts from a can.
These days, Dusseau, who has worked in the restaurant business for 20 years, eats as much local food as possible and has a garden of her own. She said she thinks the stuff growing there is prettier than flowers, even.
“I could probably do a whole sleeve on tomatoes alone,” she jokes.
Of course, she’d need a third arm for that.
This Tattoo Tale is one in an ongoing series of stories behind some Mainers’ most personal, and permanent, artistic statements. See other tales HERE.