In Conversation With Jayani Senanayake

Aug 03 2016. view 871


Peckish Me: The Life Of A Food Blogger 

Jayani Senanayake is a woman of many talents. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in French Language and Culture from the University of Kelaniya and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and is also a reputed writer and poet who has had her work published both locally and internationally. 

And today we meet another side of Jayani, the foodie and author of the food blog ‘Peckish Me’. 

As a foodie, she describes herself as a lover of cookie dough, raw cake batter, cinnamon and sunny afternoons and her blog bears testimony to that statement. Peckish Me features a series of mouth-watering recipes by Jayani such as ‘goey chocolate muffins’ and ‘creamy prawn pasta’, a few personal stories of her foodie life and several food reviews of some of Colombo’s well known food spots. 

Today on Life Online, we look into the day into the life of a food blogger; 

What is the story behind your blog’s name ‘Peckish Me’? 

Well, for one thing, I’m always hungry!

Hailing from a long line of foodies, food for me has always been more than just sustenance related. But my true obsession with food started way back when I was doing my Bachelor’s degree at the University of Kelaniya. Assignments and exams have a way of making you hungry ALL the time and each of us had our own way of dealing with the stress. Mine was baking. Exam times herald various cravings and most of the time it was cake-related. And baking killed two birds with one stones so to speak. So ‘Peckish Me’ is a tribute to those times when my constant stress-triggered peckish-ness helped me realize my true calling in life. 

What made you start a food blog? 

I love eating, I love cooking and baking and I love taking photographs of my food. And most of all, I love writing about the food that I eat and the way flavours, aromas and textures make me feel. Food for me is poetry. There is a certain sensuality, an immense joy in food that is worth the celebration. The way certain flavours and nuances merge and melt, complement and contrast is pure magic and initially, I just found myself writing for myself, just like I would pen a poem or a short story and it also served as a way for me to keep track of food and recipes that I loved and tried. But as time went on, I wanted to share this ethereal experience with the rest of the world and I realized that this is something I really wanted to do. 

What does it mean to be a food blogger? 

To start off, it is not always fun and games. Food blogging is a lot of work. You write a recipe, you test it, tweak it, test it again and tweak it until you get it absolutely perfect. You no longer look at food the way you looked at it before and even when you are at a restaurant; you are actively taking down notes. When you are handing someone a recipe to try, or you are recommending someone a new restaurant, you are assuring that person that this is the best that there is. You need to get the photographs on point and the blog post that accompanies it needs to hit the mark. All these takes days and sometimes, even weeks to perfect a single recipe or a blog post. 

But being a foodie, food blogging comes naturally. I am also a web specialist by profession with content marketing as my forte and having worked with so many brands on building their online brand image over the years, when it came to marketing my own brand content, it was the natural thing to do. The feedback I get, the kind of encouragement that I receive from the readers makes it all worthwhile. And the response I’ve received has been simply stupendous. The commendations on my writing, the fact that it has even been compared to the writing of some of the best culinary personalities out there makes me so very proud. 

Who are your cooking inspirations? 

My mother is my biggest cooking inspiration and she remains so right to this very day. I grew up among bubbling pots, sizzling pans and heat-diffusing ovens popping out delicious cakes and all kinds of homemade delicacies and looking at my mother, glowing and imperial amongst it all, magic just sizzling at her fingertips, I wanted to be just like her. 

Weekends were special - there was always something freshly baked, freshly made for tea and main meals were nothing short of extravagant with various fried rice dishes, pastas, casseroles and biriyanis peppering our meal tables. She goes all out on cooking, sourcing ingredients that we would otherwise not know to exist. Basically, she is Supermom, one of those people who’s got these magic hands which touch a dish and it is instantly transformed. Hopefully, if I am lucky, some of her magic has rubbed off on me as well! 

Does your cooking have a signature style that’s uniquely yours? 

My cooking takes a more or less healthy approach with a focus on Sri Lankan ingredients. I am a lazy person and because of this, you can depend on me to find the easiest ways to cook a dish. 

I don’t believe in dieting, I simply believe in eating clean. Even at home when cooking, we’ve always used minimal oil and cut back on junk food and processed food. But when it comes to indulging, we don’t hold back at any cost. And this is still basically the philosophy that I follow. I try to use as much local, organically grown ingredients as possible and I love trying out healthy twists to food that we already know and like. 

What would be your worst cooking nightmare? 

Well, I don’t believe I have any. But I suppose people not eating the food that I cook would be pretty awful. 

You not only blog about food recipes, but also review other food spots. What are the aspects you pay attention to when reviewing? 

Food, of course will always take the centre stage. I wouldn’t care much about food presentation as long as it is presentable and flavours are on point but I do look out for ambience and appreciate good interior decor when I see it. The deal breaker however, would be bad customer service and this is not something that can be remedied even with the most delectable food on earth. 

What’s your ideal comfort food? 

Depends on the mood really. When I am back home after being away for a while, I crave for the spicy Sri Lankan chicken curry, a fiery pol sambol and a steaming plateful of red rice. On rainy days I find myself craving for some warm Shepherd’s Pie and freshly baked bread with butter melting into it or a gooey chocolate pudding to tuck into in bed. The pol sambol + egg + cheese sandwich I make myself when I am not feeling too well features at the very top of my list of comfort food as well. 

3 dishes you’d pick to survive if you were stranded on an island? 

Chocolate cake, pol sambol and shepherd’s pie. 

What’s next on your agenda as a food blogger? 

Brand collaborations and professional restaurant reviewing. So far my focus has been on recipes with a restaurant critique or two thrown in the middle and I have had to turn down a few restaurant review requests in the past because that was not in line with the blog’s content strategy at that point. But in the times to come, I shall be taking up hotel/ restaurant and food reviewing professionally and I also have plans to collaborate with a few brands in terms of recipe developing and product reviewing. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Panchali Illankoon

Law undergrad and occasional Aunty. Foodie, travel enthusiast and full time dog mom.

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3 Comments

  1. Blake says:

    Hey yeah, I know her blog. She's amazing! Reminds me of Nigella Lawson, only better!

  2. Ranjith says:

    Beautiful writing, beautiful photos and a beautiful girl. Peckish me has workable and down to earth recipes which I like to try.

  3. Shavini says:

    Yummy blog, writing and pictures. I've tried her recipes and they are practical and easy to do. Good to see it on Life Online

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