Last week we got the chance to catch up with Jana and Silvia, a duo exploring sustainable food around Europe from Bee Farms on the roofs of Berlin to Bakeries at Prisons in Italy. Their podcast ‘The Travelling Foodcast’ features interviews with all of the wonderful characters they’ve met whilst on their travels, recorded on the road at busy cafes or crowded roadsides. We talked food as a language, simple steps to living more sustainably and some of their favourite restaurants in Europe. (tricky, we know)
So, tell us a bit about yourselves and what you do?
S: We’re Jana and Silvia and we originally became friends at University but now host a podcast called the Travelling Foodcast. We’ve been travelling around Europe since September 2018, to visit and work with projects, start-ups or NGOs that are “doing good through food”. So they’re having a positive social or environmental impact through their work in the food world!
J: Think cookery schools promoting social integration, urban farms or zero-waste restaurants… And then we make a Podcast episode about each project and the people behind these initiatives!
With a podcast name like, ‘Travelling Foodcast’ clearly you’re both big foodies! What does food mean to you?
J: Yep, we do like our food (very suspicious of people who don’t…). I think food is just the best excuse to get people to sit down together and enjoy each other’s company. When you’re travelling, it’s also the best way to get to know a new country, the people and their culture.
S: Food is a language, can you speak food? Cooking for someone is very intimate, you are telling a story without using words but flavours, that’s why it’s so powerful. Food can transport you, it can make you feel at home or very far from home. That’s why I love it.
And how have your thoughts on food changed since starting this adventure?
J: I’ve definitely come to see communal cooking and eating as a really valuable way to introduce different groups of people to one another. Groups that might not meet otherwise. Almost everyone can cook (or learn to!), no matter what your ability or background. People let down their guards in the kitchen, they start working together, communicating even if they don’t speak the same language. So, food – and more specifically, preparing food – really has the power to connect people.
S: Definitely, when you see how food is produced on a farm your relationship with produce changes completely, you eat it more consciously and develop a new sense of appreciation.
What have been some of your favourite projects to work on so far?
S: Such a hard question! All the projects we’ve visited are so different and all the people running them are incredible, so it’s tricky to pick favourites. However, I feel like I really enjoyed ‘InCampagna’ in Sicily, the ‘Sofia Breadhouse’ in Bulgaria and one of our latest ones ‘Food for Soul’ in Modena.
J: The Sofia Breadhouse was definitely special. Their work is based on the idea that every culture, no matter where in the world, makes some type of bread. So, they organise workshops where local Bulgarians, refugee women, children with disabilities, homeless people all come together to bake bread. We made a video of our time there. Restlos glücklich in Berlin was also great! They go into schools to teach the kids about food waste and cook school lunches with surplus ingredients that they’ve rescued.
Nomad Trips – Your favourite places you have visited so far and places you would recommend
- Moltivolti: a restaurant/social enterprise with a Sicilian – ethnic kitchen.
- KePalle: to try arancini (Sicily’s famous rice balls). This place has over 30 different flavour combinations, from the classic burro e safron to the more out – there gamberetti e pistacchi.
- Mercato di Ballarò: to browse, buy some market lunch on – the – go.
- Gelateria al Cassaro: for some ice cream!
- Caffè Sicilia: for almond granita and brioche. Ok so this isn’t technically in Palermo, but this pasticceria makes a day trip to Noto worthwhile (…also, Noto is beautiful)
- Supastar: affordable and delicious soups, they have vegan options too!
- Raketa Rakia: typical bulgarian food, very big portion, nice retro decor and friendly staff!
- Sun Moon: only vegetarian and vegan food, amazing homemade selection of bread and other pastries.
- Lavanda: a townhouse – flat – turned – restaurant. From the outside, you’d never suspect that there’s a restaurant inside. Very cosy and cool!
- ‘Nut’ shops: they’re hard to miss, in the centre of Sofia you will find a ‘nut’ shop at every corner. They have a very wide selection of dried fruits, nuts (including chocolate coated ones) at very affordable prices – the perfect snack!
What are some of the ways people can try to eat/live more sustainably?
J: I think the first step is just trying to be a bit more aware. The daily food choices you make are probably the easiest and most effective way in which you can reduce your environmental footprint. You don’t need to go vegan by tomorrow, but start with some small things. Don’t be scared to eat things past their expiration dates – trust your senses. Try to buy food that’s been grown locally; food that’s in season. Of course, only do what you can afford to but just try to have a think the next time you’re in a supermarket: “where’s this food from, who is involved in the production, is this a realistic price?”
S: I think that you should also remember that you as an individual can make a difference, however small a change it can have a huge impact.
What would be your final meal if you could choose it?
S: Spaghetti al pomodoro and a slice of crostata – possibly by the sea in the sun.
J: Some fresh – out – the – oven bread with butter. Schupfnudeln (kind of like German gnocchi ?) And a selection of my Grandma’s infamous christmas cookies.
What are some of your favourite foodie podcasts or TV programmes?
S: I enjoy the Bon Appétit foodcast, sometimes it’s very mono thematic (how can someone talk about chicken thighs for 45 minutes?). Also, ‘Radio Cherry Bomb’ – a podcast about pioneering women in the world of food. I recommend ‘Nailed it’ on Netflix, it’s kind of like Bake off, but with people who can’t bake.. Good for those of you who need a confidence – boost in the kitchen!
J: The obvious food TV programme is Chef’s Table – watch the first ever episode on Massimo Bottura (kind of our hero…) and then listen to episode 14 of our podcast. The one on Corrado Assenza is also amazing! For some non – food podcast inspiration Heavyweight has a very entertaining host, where people have to have the conversations that they’ve been avoiding. Anything else by Gimlet who consistently produce amazing narrative storytelling and Ear Hustle – a podcast recorded from inside a prison (!) are all great.
Any favourite cookbooks? Or chefs?
J: Massimo Bottura and Anna Jones are definitely up there.
S: My whole family, they’re my favourite chefs and I always call/text them for recipes!
J: So true, I feel I called my mum at least once a week for a recipe during my first year of uni. A couple of years ago, my aunt actually typed up my grandma’s old recipe binder, printed them all and had them bound. So now everyone has their own copy of her collection, which is great!
How has it been recording a Podcast on the road?
J: It’s definitely inspired some pretty great den-building. Eventually we stopped with the duvet-caves though. We decided the barely noticeable improvement in sound quality was not worth the judgement received by the Airbnb hosts or friend-of-friends we were staying with.
Quick fire round
Sweet or savoury? Roadtrip or train ride? Scuba diving or sky diving? Journal or Instagram?
J: Savoury, Roadtrip, Scuba – diving! I like to carefully curate my instagram profile to make me look like an artistic and reflective journal person… but based on my day – to – day activities I have to admit: Instagram.
S: Savoury, roadtrip, scuba diving. I rely on my agenda, I write down everything in it (useful and not so useful stuff). I also keep a journal, but I also use Instagram.
J: Wow, we’re pretty similar. Want to go spend every minute of every day together for a total of 9 months?
S: Alright then. Onto the final trimester.
Make sure to take a look at Jana and Silvia’s website if you want to see more about the projects they’ve been working with and to follow their journey on a seriously food-envy-inducing instagram. The pair have an easy chemistry, making The Travelling Foodcast an easy, informative and fun listen and you can feel just a little bit smug that you’re helping to create a more sustainable world all from the comfort of your own home or tube carriage. All episodes can be accessed here.