Honesty to the taste | Sunday Observer

Honesty to the taste

Running a successful Bridal Magazine, Brides of Sri Lanka and recently venturing into travel and food blogging, is Nelum Haththella. She was inspired by her blog, Food and Travel Escapades by Nel. The vibrant traveller and food enthusiast loves exploring different dishes and destinations.

Through her blog, she wants to share recipes that she experiments with, the places she travels to and dining places one must experience when travelling.

Nelum speaks to Youth Observer about travel, food and blogging.

Q: What made you start Food and Travel Escapades by Nel ?

My love for food and travel has been shared on my personal Facebook page for years now and followed by friends who appreciate a good honest reviews of places to eat, drink or travel to. It included my cooking, overseas and local travel, good food I’ve tasted and restaurants worth crediting. But it was limited to friends I have 'accepted' only, as my FB profile was very private. But I wanted to share these wonderful experiences with the rest of the world, so fellow food lovers and travel buffs can enjoy them. Hence, the birth of Food & Travel Escapades by Nel.

Q: How different is your food and travel blog?

My reviews are very honest, to my own taste and standards. F&T is NOT a business for me, where I make money out of every post or review. Hence, I am not obliged to promote an entity that isn’t worthy, or write good reviews on bad experiences. The fact that I am Nelum Haththella before F&T, carries great credibility and hence people trust my reviews. And that trust, I don’t want to ever lose!

My follower base is organic growth. I haven’t ‘bought’ followers to simply show numbers. Also, my style is very simple and unpretentious. I don’t try too hard with the pictures or videos. It’s very casual and shows my true self and experiences as they are.

Q: Your advice to those who get inspired by your blog?

Stay true and don’t get carried away with the interest in earning money through your blog. Once people lose trust in you and your reviews, you will not have a long-standing follower base.

Q: What is the most extraordinary dish you have prepared and what was the occasion for the preparation?

To me every dish I prepare is extraordinary as I have added my touch to it – either I have added different ingredients, changed flavours or the method, or presented uniquely. But I think Christmas is a time where I prepare the best dishes and try out new interesting recipes to make the occasion a little more exciting and something to look forward to.

Q: This year you have travelled a lot, what has been the most exciting travel adventure this year?

I think my solo birthday trip to London was quite the experience this year. I have this habit of trying out things I’ve never done. So, this was the first time I was alone and away from home for my birthday, and also the first time I was overseas for my birthday since having the kids. I also travelled around London by myself for the first time, which gave me ample ‘me time’. And also it was the first time I was in the air at 34,000 feet, flying back home on my birthday. The whole trip helped me rediscover myself and re-evaluate my life, my desires and how I want to reshape my future.

Q: What inspires your cooking? travel, people or experiences and why?

I cook for therapy and out of love – so it isn’t inspired. There are many dishes I try out of inspiration – it could be a newly discovered ingredient, a dish I tried, a particular cuisine or its flavours, a strong aroma, a wine or drink… it could be many things that trigger spontaneity and you see me jumping off on my feet, ready to cook!

But my extensive travel and interesting cultures I discover, their cuisine and way of life, play a major part of what I bring back home to cook.

Q: Will you be starting a travel and food magazine?

Well, the thought has crossed my mind a few times. But let’s see.

Q: If you could make Sri Lankans eat three of your preparations, what would it be?

My prawn fettuccini, my signature grilled chicken and vegetable bake and my very own spicy Sri Lankan pork fry.

Q: Name one travel and food program you want to be on?

Parts Unknown by Anthony Bourdain.

Q: When you travel what do you take with you most of the time, and what do you leave behind?

Take with me – My credit cards and phone!

Leave behind – My worries!

Q: If your favourite celebrity is coming home for a meal, what would you prepare?

Morgan Freeman – I’ll first ask what he’d like to eat, and if I was asked to surprise him – I’ll cook a truly authentic Sri Lankan feast (you know I always cook too much!):

* Dun thel bath, dhal curry, cashew curry, chicken curry, Sri Lankan beef stew, my spicy pork fry, cabbage leaf mallung, brinjal moju, Sri Lankan pickle and papadam

* Wheat flour string hoppers, potato curry, chicken curry, tempered prawns, fish ambul thiyal, coconut sambol and seeni sambol

* Mixed meat kottu with chicken gravy and onion sambol

Q: One influential person, you want to have dinner with and given the option for you to choose the destination and venue?

Mark Zuckerberg, Ibiza (Spain), Sublimotion by Paco Roncero… I am sure he can foot the bill!