Welcome to IshitaUnblogged!
Hi! This is my culinary travel blog featuring Dubai, Kolkata & the world beyond. Culture, history, food and travel stories, inspiring recipes, chef talk, dining reviews and nostalgia unfold here amidst humour, soul-search and visual stimulation. And oh! How could I ever forget? With 2 kids in tow!
As you visit my blog, I hope that you will spend some time browsing through and leave behind a comment (or two!). This blog started way back in October 2011 as a creative expression of myself, purely out of passion with no commercial intention.
Three Four Five Six years hence, I have built a career out of this passion by co-founding FoodeMag, a food-travel-wellness emagazine and website, which I also edit. Over the years, I have built a lot of credibility on this blog and my emagazine with sheer hard work, honesty, creativity and passion (I repeat the word passion, because that has been, and still is the absolute founding stone of this space). To maintain transparency and authenticity in this blog, I only write about food and travel stories that inspire me and feel will inspire You, my readers. The blog is still my meditative space, brings me solace and keeps me grounded as this is where it all began. And most importantly it connected me to You. Be assured, that there are no affiliated links or any indirect promotional ads whatsoever that may distract you from your reading or in trusting my writing. Every blogpost has a disclosure at the end on who’s footed the bill – whether it’s self paid or not, any media discounts that I may have availed for my family/myself, if my family/myself have been hosted or whether a brand that I am writing about, is a paid collaboration with FoodeMag. I personally reply to each and every comment that comes my way in this blog or on my social media channels – although I admit guilty of overlooking emails occasionally. I feel that the latter needs a more formal response and I tend to mark them to respond later, and then they somehow vanish. Please feel free to nudge again if I haven’t responded to you (try not to WhatsApp though!). I am also pretty social with an engaging and a niche audience of 35K+, so feel free to be SOCIAL… Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and a bit of YouTube for the time being!
A Bit About Me
We love to travel and we don’t really care how we look when we travel… as is evident from our ruffled hair, sand-brushed cracky cheeks and squinty stares in the above picture – from our
Srilanka Nepal USA Ladakh Cambodia Jordan trip this summer. And we love to eat when we travel. We refers to my husband (referred earlier in this blog as S, but has now taken after a new avatar – the Bearded Biker, since he bought himself a Harley Davidson after he hit forties and we’ve been gleefully following him on a few of his road trips) and myself with our two little girls whom we address as the Z-Sisters (even outside the blog!). Big Z is going to turn 8 this May, has turned 8, has turned 9, has just turned 10/11/12 has turned 13 this May and Li’l Z is going to turn 3 in March, has turned 3, has turned 4, has turned 5 years, has turned 6/7 has turned 8 in March.
I love clicking pictures.
And I’m trying to pull Big Z, I’ve pulled Big Z into my team by having gifted her a small Canon ‘aim and shoot’ on her 7th birthday. She’s fallen into my trap without realising it. And nobody in the family likes me doing that. I have been told by my family and friends that I drive them up the wall when I am with my camera – a trusted Nikon SLR (and currently a Samsung Galaxy too) currently a Huawei P8 an Iphone 8. They have gradually learnt to tolerate me – although very mildly – over the years. But my obsession to click pictures could well be an undiagnosed case of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)! [Updating a bit here in May 2014]… Recently my MacBook and iMac, both crashed on the same day wiping away many many pictures from many many years. This tragedy elevated me from the digital geek that I had become (when I couldn’t enjoy my Turkish ice cream because my smartphone had died and I couldn’t take a selfie) to a spiritual foodie (it’s okay to write entire food posts with pictures taken in the smartphone, the Nikon can wait). [Updated in May 2015]… The lens for my Nikon SLR got smashed in Ladakh due to extreme pressure fluctuation at various altitudes and bit of rough handling from my end. As you can understand, it left me pretty devastated. In addition to this, the non-availability of wifi for most of our 10 days road trip tranformed me from an addicted clicker to a thoughtful clicker. Unfortunately, it also turned me away from my traditional camera by enticing me to the convenience of a smartphone camera. Now, I practically do everything on my iPhone – from editing images to creating movies. I have also started living every moment without the need to click every moment I live. What hasn’t changed however in all these years and so many transformations, is my blog. It is my virtual home and is still very photo heavy. The focus is still on my style of content. I practically dwell here, unblogging it all. Just like music unplugged, here… it’s me – Ishita, #unblogged!
A Bit More About Me
I struggled quite a bit to make this ‘Bit’ as small as possible – if you skip this part you will still get the essence of the blog
The following are some of the idiosyncrasies in us that you have a right to know and which will only help you, in-case we happen to be sitting next to each other while travelling:
• If you have the window seat and I don’t, then you must necessarily look out of the window all the time. Otherwise, you don’t have the right to be sitting by the window. I’ll pester you with ‘Nice view isn’t it?’ till you end up saying ‘Would you like to see the view yourself?’ and swap places
• If the food served to you is different from mine (even though I have been served exactly what I have ordered), I will necessarily STARE at your food since at this point I will be thinking that you knew exactly that your food is going to be better than mine
• My magazines and newspapers would necessarily be lying on the floor
or would have been torn into multiple pieces by the Z-Sisters. [Updating a bit here in May 2016]… the Z-Sisters have become really dignified travellers and are simply happy if we travel. I still haven’t changed much. So I will definitely borrow magazines and newspapers stacked in YOUR seat pocket even though you probably haven’t finished reading them
• I will want to take out my handbag from the overhead loft every half an hour to use my hand moisturiser, lip balm, chewing gum and my travel itinerary list – in exactly that order. This is to make sure that I have included everything that has to be seen and done. As per all the travel guides and websites. And No, I cannot keep my handbag on my lap or under my feet – it’s big and very uncomfortable
I look at people either through my camera lenses or through my senses – ‘Do they appear the way they sound? Does the face tally with the name of the person? Does the surname complement the name?’ etc. SO, EITHER I WILL STARE AT YOU BECAUSE YOU WILL BE A FABULOUS SUBJECT FOR MY PHOTOGRAPHS OR I AM BOTHERED THAT YOU LOOK DIFFERENT FROM WHAT I EXPECT YOU TO APPEAR That was before. Now, the first thing that comes in my mind – is he/she a food blogger? If yes, then it’s perfect. Both of us will click pictures of our food, tweet, share with our readers without the need to talk. If he/she is not a food blogger – well, then efforts have to be made to resist my fingers from touching my smartphone so as to not appear unsocial
LASTLY, I WILL BE STARING OUT OF THE WINDOW EVEN IF IT IS DARK!
If you are still interested in the other members in our family, then here are three more bullet points:
The Z-Sisters will definitely order apple juices and when they are being served apple juices, they will opt for mango juices. Nowadays, the Z-Sisters are try to order fizzy drinks against my wishes all the time. And I look expectantly at the steward/stewardess as if it’s their sole responsibility to put sense into passengers’ children – after all, parents also need a break from parenting
• S will necessarily drink beer on the flight and catch up on movies;
if he falls asleep he will definitely snore. Nowadays, it’s me who snores while sleeping. Not sure whether its true though but I reach my destination energetic and charged up, so I am least bothered
• Please remember that the Z-Sisters will definitely fight amongst themselves for the remotes, handsets, comforters and constantly declare that they are hungry or thirsty or they are getting plain bored
I love Art museums and hate children’s parks that have millions of rides. I refuse to pay for my headache and body pain that comes in the name of roller-coaster rides and bumpy cars.
Big Z hates them too. But, Li’l Z is gradually showing promising nerves – hence entertainment parks are probably future holiday destinations that can’t be ruled out for long. Big Z is into roller coasters these days. And yes, Lil Z loves rides and water parks and we are slowly booking ourselves into various theme parks now and then.
S loves architectural ruins and historical places where you can still hear the cannons boom. His shopping typically consists of local T-shirts with profanities written on them and he tries to cover himself up with jackets (even if it is boiling hot) so that Big Z can’t read them. He also buys caps and spices or liqueur from the local markets. As for me, I like buying local jewelleries – the junk type, and cookbooks on the local cuisine. Big Z wants to buy everything that she sees. And Li’l Z
is yet to form her own shopping preferences is already following on Big Z’s footsteps – wanting to buy everything that she sees. [Updated in 2015]… Currently, the entire family looks forward to exciting road/motorbike trips.
How does Food come into the picture? Blame it on my Bengali genes, perhaps!
The most important companion in our travel is Food. It’s futile to even try justifying the highest expenditure in our holiday bills – the food expenditure. The four of us can travel far and wide just to experience a particular culinary delight. What to eat and where to eat comes first in our holiday planning, followed by everything else. I make detailed notes of all the special spices that go into the local food of each place we visit and S scours the local groceries or food markets for local spices of the particular region that we are visiting. Big Z loves to eat, likes experimenting with food (an update here… has started to show interests in cooking and baking). Li’l Z
loves to take everything on her plate! too loves her food.
This food fetish can be blamed on our inheriting the Bengali genes. Talking about myself – I am a true-blue Bengali or a Bong, a term that straight away upgrades the Bengalis into the funky, ubér-cool category! Born and brought up for the most part in Kolkata in India, food has shaped my personality and my character. My Bengali genes are surely to be blamed for my relentless creative pursuits and my unsatiated taste-buds. I am glad to have found a food-mate in S, my Bong husband. And we are happy to have made our Bengali ancestors proud by passing on similar genes (atleast the ones that determine the taste buds) to the Z-Sisters.
Our food preferences are contradictory. S demands everything spicy while the Z-Sisters demand everything mild but always insist on tasting Daddy’s food and end up coughing till they are almost choked. Eating and cooking is a therapeutic and a soulful experience for our family and it’s the most exciting conversation in our lives.
As for me – I’m a confused eater. Confused, because I don’t know what I love to eat, what to order (there are far too many food options available in this world) and I always like what others have ordered!
little hands, big hearth is our travel inspired experiments with Food
My childhood in Kolkata as well as setting up homes with S in different cities like Kolkata, Colombo, Frankfurt and Dubai – have shaped our cookings and moulded our taste-buds. Post holidays, we are on our own food trips at home – experimenting our newly acquired expertise on the local cuisine fused with our regular cooking, thus, inventing new dishes which are mostly eagerly anticipated by family and friends. Since we come from Bengal, India, there’s a lot of experiments on Bengali cuisine – both traditional and fusion. Also a whole lot of Filipino food (yes, that too!), courtesy my Lady Friday who hails from Bicol, a region in Philippines known for it’s spicy cuisine. And finally, I have to mention the sweet sign off – the Desserts & Sweets. This is probably the most important food discussion in our family and amongst friends as Bongs are well-known for their sweet tooth. This however has to change soon, more on that later!
am an started off as an independent Food & Travel Blogger, and now… this is my journey beyond
When I started this blog in October 2011, it was with the intention of sharing my personal food and travel stories with like-minded readers – I wanted to write. Down the line, I started getting invites for food events, restaurant launches, food-tastings, media trips, contributing recipes and food and travel write-ups in various media publications. This takes a lot of time and effort. Today, if it is not a paid collaboration/campaign for FoodeMag, I may accept invites on behalf of FoodeMag where there are ‘no obligations what-so-ever to write on my blog’ and only if I there is something I can lear or is experiential for my readers, shall I commit to write in my blog. The experience has to inspire me and my audience can relate to it, will I write a post in my blog. I choose what posts to write and each post is based on my own experiences and outlines my own independent opinions.
Over these blogging years, I’ve connected to many of you at a personal level and have had the opportunity to meet up with some of the leading food bloggers of this region (some international ones too), well known personalities in the food industry, chefs and celebrities – both virtually and otherwise. I’ve been enriched with these experiences, and feel humbled with the comments left by you in my blog and in this blog. The blog has also had it’s little share of press and media mentions. Although the blog connects me to real people, it also gives me the opportunity to explore beyond my blog in the following capacities:
As I Sign Off
From the time I have started penning down our culinary and travel journeys, this blog has continuously evolved. However, the essence or the blog philosophy remains the same. Travel, Food and Photography are genuine passions for me and I have taken lots of effort and time in trying to make the site visually stimulating. S and the Z-Sisters have also had to sacrifice a lot, along with my friends and others in the family. ‘DON’T EAT before I take pictures!’ or ‘FREEZE the spoon in your mouth – that’s a perfect ice-cream dripping shot!’ or ‘Can you please cut my vegetables – your nails will look perfect in my photographs!’ are some of my my mild requests that people close to me have become senile to. All images (unless it is stated otherwise), content and graphics belong to me. Please… please don’t use any of them unethically or without acknowledging. Your suggestions to make the site more interesting are always welcome and do share with me the different links and sites which might inspire my pin board.
As we travel with bag and baggage, cookies and camera chargers, chomping away local savouries and penning down new recipes, my trusted
camera iPhone tries to capture everything and every moment a few memorable moments – both tangible and the intangible ones – like the cold tickle in our toes while walking on the grass or the fire-alarm-provoking spunk-spice drifting out of my kitchen.
All these and more, with two kids in tow!
Unblogging it all… Ishita