#16 food & farming
Prisca L. Watko

Delicious Bytes

DDD asked seven food bloggers from around the world what motivates them to blog and to share a regional favorite with you.

With a new weblog popping up every half a second, the vast number of food blogs available around the globe is not surprising. Since prehistoric times, food has been more than just a source of the energy we need; it has also served as a social catalyst. Preparing food together creates a sense of community, whether in a small family or for an entire region.

The essence of food blogging is not a new phenomenon at all. While recipes used to be passed down from generation to generation, today food blogs fill the gap left by the limited space and scope of the traditional cookbook. Knowledge transfer of food ideas has become easier, as has learning how to cook thanks to the audiovisual opportunities of the Internet. In the early years of food blogging, famous cooks and professional food writers created websites to promote their work. The underlying motivations have since evolved: Blogging about food is not always marketing or self-expression and entertainment; it can also be a self-sustaining business. The number of conferences organized around the world from New York to Cape Town is evidence that it has become much more than just a hobby. Technology allows us to expand the discussion around food from immediate family and friends to include an infinite number of readers unlimited by any physical border.

While the vibrant and fast-paced competition dooms most food blogs to an unappreciated existence, some gain outstanding attention. We interviewed a number of successful food bloggers from across the globe: Nigeria, Botswana, Singapore, Slovenia, the USA and Brazil. Their individual achievements are very distinct, ranging from creating intercultural fusion foods or mash-ups to simplifying the preparation of vegan dishes. Among the selected food blogs you will find culinary art that not only looks good enough to eat. If it is true that we are what we eat, now is the time to broaden our horizons and maybe gather some inspiration for tonight’s dinner with a virtual culinary trip around the globe!

“Dobby’s Signature”

Experience the food of Nigeria with Adaobi

Dobby’s signature is zestful, her blog a colorful, illustrated blend of Nigerian food with an infusion of global influences. In the blog’s “Street Foodie Waka” section, Adaobi steps out of her kitchen and explores the glocal food industry, by documenting a visit to Nestlé’s Nigerian factory, for instance.

“I started blogging as a way to document my journey through food.”

What inspired you to start blogging about food?

“I’m a culinary enthusiast with a flair for local cuisines in Nigeria and around the globe. I started blogging as a way to document my journey through food. Thankfully, it has been a wonderful journey so far. Whenever I’m not cooking, I do illustrations and graphic designs too as shown on the blog. My blog also features a lifestyle section, where I explore meals outside the walls of my kitchen, including foodie adventures, and product and restaurant reviews.”

Shared recipe

“The dish I chose is known as Boli (roasted plantain). It’s usually served with roasted groundnuts or pepper sauce (Ata dindin) and fish. It’s a delicacy enjoyed in most parts of Nigeria. Boli is a street food eaten mostly with roasted peanuts outdoors. Workers who don’t have close restaurants to go to quickly get this from roadside vendors who roast by hand. When eaten indoors, it’s served with pepper sauce and roasted fish. It’s mostly eaten with washed bare hands.”

Stay hungry and discover more regional recipes in our gallery!

“The Food in my Beard”

Experience the food of the East Coast of the United States with Dan

Dan has shared over 1,000 recipes “straight from the beard” with his blog readers. From his current home in Boston, he enjoys innovating recipes for “crazy-good comfort food”. If the kitchen makes you feel like a fish on dry land, Dan offers a basic cooking section on how to peel tomatoes or make meatballs like your grandmother to help you become a chef step by step.

“I never expected to love it so much or for it ever to become my full-time job.”

What inspired you to start blogging about food?

“I started my blog as a hobby about eight years ago and I never expected to love it so much or for it ever to become my full-time job. I am inspired every day by things I see and eat in the food world, and I use that inspiration to come up with new recipes for my blog. I am usually inspired by food that I eat at new restaurants in Boston where I live, but I am also inspired by food references in pop culture: By bands I listen to or on TV shows and movies. I am known on my blog for “mash-up” recipes where I combine two different dishes into one new recipe, and these are the recipes that I am usually most proud of and that my fans seem to really enjoy.”

Shared recipe

“I have chosen the lobster roll banh mi because lobster rolls are a regional dish from New England where I live. I have mashed it up though with the popular Vietnamese sandwich called the Banh Mi. There are a lot of Vietnamese communities in Boston, so I think that this mash-up represents a blending of cultures.”

Stay hungry and discover more regional recipes in our gallery!

“Delishar”

Experience the food of Singapore with Sharon

Sharon, a counsellor by trade, lives in Singapore with her two daughters and American husband. Her blog offers inspiring fusion food, a winning combination of Asian dishes and the Western preference for pasta and potatoes that is the result of an intercultural marriage. Blogging about food was important in helping her prepare to return to the workforce after maternity leave, as it provided easy access to the family’s preferences and her culinary advice for helpers at home.

"One of the reasons I started cooking was because it allows my family and me to eat healthier and better."

What inspired you to start blogging about food?

“We Singaporeans take our food very seriously. Singapore is known as the culinary capital of Asia. You can easily find at least 20 food vendors in a single food centre. The local hawker centre is an open-air complex that houses many stalls that sell a variety of very affordably priced foods. The one across from my street houses about 40 food and drink stores. Prices for food range from S$2.80 to S$5, and a cup of coffee costs only S$1. Singapore is a melting pot of cultures, so we have been exposed to many different cuisines and cultures from all over the world. So much so, it is even reflected in the varieties of food found in food centres, food courts, and restaurants. One of the reasons I started cooking was because it allows my family and me to eat healthier and better. I started blogging about food when friends and family started asking me for recipes for the food I make. Instead of sending a lot of private messages, and individually answering questions on different steps, I decided to take step-by-step pictures of the cooking process and share them on my blog. Another reason I started my blog was to have a database of all the recipes that I have made, so that I can replicate them again years later.”

Shared recipe

“The dish I am sharing, Hor Fun (flat rice noodles in gravy), is a popular local dish that can be found in almost all food centres in Singapore. The flat rice noodles are seasoned and stir-fried in a wok over very high heat, giving it a smoky flavour. Served with thick silky gravy on top, it is a comforting dish that is very easy to eat. It’s no wonder that it’s a local favourite, both among children and adults!”

Stay hungry and discover more regional recipes in our gallery!

“My Burnt Orange”

Experience the food of Botswana with Freedes

Born to Ghanaian parents in Botswana, Freedes now lives with her Zimbabwean husband in London where she works as an electrical engineer. She has blogged about Afro-cosmopolitan cuisine since 2011. The blog’s name is a homage to her very first burnt orange kitchen where she hosted countless dinners with friends. Her recipes are supplemented by cooking videos and audio blog entries on how to earn a living blogging about food, for example.

“It didn't matter to me whether my blog was read or not, what mattered at the time was that I had left my personal impression in the world's digital space.”

What inspired you to start blogging about food?

“Food has always been something I loved, especially eating it; though I seem to have developed a knack for cooking, taking pictures and writing about it. It was really an outlet for my self-expression and I decided to put my thoughts and ideas out to the world in the form of a blog. After all, it is my belief that one of the deepest desires of the human race is to be able to express ourselves, to be understood and accepted. It didn't matter to me whether my blog was read or not, what mattered at the time was that I had left my personal impression in the world's digital space.”

Shared food experience

“I always find it difficult to pick a favorite regional dish because I have such a huge appetite for both food and the knowledge that unlocks the history of certain dishes. I don't have a favourite, but I would have to pick one of the most iconic dishes of Botswana, the country of my birth and upbringing. The national dish is called seswaa and is very similar in texture to pulled beef. It is commonly found on the menu at events such as weddings. Seswaa means so much more to me than just a festive dish reserved for weddings. What makes it so special and meaningful is the fact that seswaa is shared and made available to every citizen during Botswana's Independence celebrations every year. No one goes hungry, and that is special, particularly as we have just celebrated 49 years of independence. I will share my recipe with you today for how to cook seswaa in your kitchen.”

Stay hungry and discover more regional recipes in our gallery!

“Flora Refosco”

Experience the food of Brazil

“É o que tem pra hoje?” – so what do we have for today? Flora from Santa Catarina in Brazil asks her readers. After a career in filmmaking as a camera assistant in São Paulo, she now dedicates her private and professional life to cooking. She has put her audio-visual talent to good use vlogging about cooking on YouTube. On her bilingual blog, she also shares insights into Brazilian street food and co-hosts articles with other bloggers on topics such as gut health.

“After I moved away from my family to go to college, I started to realize that cooking is a way to cultivate joy in the routine…”

What inspired you to start blogging about food?

“Food has always played a major role in my life. We usually gather with the people who are dear to us around food. After I moved away from my family to go to college, I started to realize that cooking is a way to cultivate joy in the routine, and to take good care of ourselves and those around us - by properly nourishing our bodies and through the pure pleasure of eating. I love experimenting, reading, asking around about recipes, techniques, tricks, nutrition. And when I learn something new I get so excited that I feel like sharing it. I thought a blog would be a good way to do so.”

Shared recipe

“Pastel is a thin fried pastry envelope that can be filled with almost anything. Common fillings include: ground beef, cured cheese, shrimp, and palm heart. You find them everywhere you go in Brazil, especially at farmers markets, where people drink fresh sugar cane juice to go with them. It is also common to have pastel as a side to a traditional lunch of rice and beans, sautéed kale, and a lettuce and tomato salad. I chose it because it is a common favorite in a country as large and diverse as Brazil: Pastel are popular, democratic (due to the endless filling options), familiar to all of us, and greatly appreciated when served up warm and crunchy.”

Stay hungry and discover more regional recipes in our gallery!

“It’s Lovely Food”

Experience the food of Slovenia with Neja

Neja has a message for the world – “you can have your cake and eat it too”. She leads you through the day with a breakfast, lunch, dinner section. Committed to spreading positivity through her blog, she also shares insight into her private life, her travels, and her favorite songs in the “milkshake” section of the blog. Neja’s love for detail shows not just in the design of her blog, but also in her carefully composed food photography.

“Before I started blogging about food, I didn't actually know how to cook, but I loved eating delicious food…”

What inspired you to start blogging about food?

“Before I started blogging about food, I didn't actually know how to cook, but I loved eating delicious food and wanted to learn how to make it myself. One day, I saw beautiful food photographs that inspired me. I wanted to learn how to take beautiful food photographs so that I could make people feel the same things that I felt when I saw those photographs. Writing my own food blog forced me to learn precisely how to cook, style, and photograph prepared dishes.”

Shared recipe

“I chose to introduce you to gnocchi or as we call them ‘njoki’. Even though gnocchi are traditional Italian pasta, they are also considered a traditional Slovenian dish. We eat quite them quite regularly, at least those who are not on a diet. Gnocchi can be quite filling since they are made of potatoes and flour. It is one of my favourite dishes and my mind immediately turns to heavier lunches when summer ends in Slovenia. You can make gnocchi with pumpkin in the fall. You can enjoy them with a glass of wine, a big bowl of salad, parmesan cheese and the traditional, ready-to-eat Slovenian dessert 'gibanica'. At my home gnocchi are served covered in tomato sauce, cheese sauce or a good pesto. You can eat them in a Slovenian home or a restaurant in the countryside or by the sea. But truly, the best gnocchi are the ones you prepare at home with your own two hands.”

Stay hungry and discover more regional recipes in our gallery!

“The Vegan Stoner”

Experience the food of the West Coast of the United States with Sarah and Graham

Sarah and Graham want to teach the world how to cook cheap, fast and vegan, while also making vegan food accessible to anyone by doing without extensive shopping lists. Their recipes follow a simplistic approach supported by colourful and playful beautifully hand-drawn illustrations to trigger more creativity among their fans.

“…we wanted to create a blog that utilized graphics to help visual learners, as well as creating a fun and un-intimidating source for cooks of all levels.”

What inspired you two to start blogging about food?

“We initiated our food blog as a resource for beginning to advanced vegan cooks that would make vegan cooking easy, quick and inexpensive. In addition, we wanted to create a blog that utilized graphics to help visual learners, as well as creating a fun and un-intimidating source for cooks of all levels. We noticed that most vegan recipes called for an extensive list of ingredients and certain specific cooking methods/utensils that many did not have the know-how or tools for. Our vegan lifestyle is based on many personal preferences that range from philosophical, health and taste choices. Our blog and our first cookbook focus on using processed, easy-to-find groceries to make common recipes. Our upcoming book will focus more on whole, unprocessed foods without soy to help vegans create a diverse diet that is still realistic, i.e. affordable and relatively easy.”

Shared recipe

“The history of pot pies goes back to the Roman Empire, though their popularity in the U.S. can probably be traced back to England, which brought its love for bird pies to the “New World”. In modern America the dish is considered a comfort food – a recipe made in a large pie dish to be shared by a family – especially during the cold winter months. Many people associate home-cooked meals with bonding with loved ones, which is why pot pie recipes are often designed to serve five or more people. The Vegan Stoner often focuses on quick meals that can be cooked for individuals and couples, since it is easier to double a recipe than divide a large recipe into fractions. That’s why this recipe is made to serve two people. We’ve also kept in mind that the working person doesn’t usually have the time to treat themselves or a loved one to a home-cooked meal.

A traditional American pot pie would be made with milk and chicken. In our vegan recipe we cut out the chicken and used extra veggies. We also found that coconut milk was an especially satisfying dairy alternative. The subtle sweetness of the coconut balances the savory elements in the recipe. This is something we learned from Thai coconut-milk-based curries. As with all of our recipes, this one is easy to personalize by substituting the reader’s preferred ingredients. The Vegan Stoner recipes often use measurement terms such as “sprinkling”, “spoonful” or “handful” because we believe this helps the beginning cook become more confident with improvisation, and it will hopefully assist them in cooking instinctually and taking creative risks. We always urge people to taste, smell, and feel their food as they cook to adapt the recipe into something that will fit their own personal tastes.”

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