Over the past few years, food bloggers have taken the gastronomic world by storm. They occupy a space that used to be inhabited only by chefs and the formally trained. Not only do we look to bloggers to review and recommend restaurants but we also turn to them for recipes and buy their cookbooks.
We caught up with Durban-born food and travel blogger Verushka Ramasami, aka the “Spice Goddess”, to chat about her life as a foodie and traveller.
Ramasami studied at the then-Natal Technikon and Natal University. She completed a 4-year teaching qualification, specialising in high school education, with home economics as a major.
She said the course had been intense and covered a large spectrum of fields, among them food and nutrition, clothing and textiles, physiology and applied science.
After finishing her studies, Ramasami got her first job in a boarding school in Ixopo in a small KwaZulu-Natal town. Later, she headed to London where she taught in schools in the East End.
She is back home, and works in the technical and vocational education and training sector as a lecturer in tourism.
As for when she discovered blogging as a career, she said she always loved travelling and, from a young age, her parents had exposed her brother and her to a lot of local trips.
She shared: “My dad was a keen foodie, so birthdays were always meals at fancy restaurants in and around Durban. My parents were very big on giving us experiences and allowing us to discover the world.
“Growing up, our kitchen was the centre of my home as my late grandmother was an exceptional cook and I learnt to cook watching her.
“When I lived in London, I spent all my money travelling as it was so affordable, and every school holiday, I made it a priority to travel. London was a foodie heaven and I tried out so many amazing foodie spots.
“Whenever I travelled, I made it a point to try out local cuisine and always brought back local spices so I could create meals from my travels.
“I guess my culinary education from my late grandmother, my formal training, and my travels really steered me in this direction. More so in lockdown; when travel was a no-go, I spent time at home cooking meals from my past travels and sharing these recipes.”
Describing how the cuisine from her culture has kept her connected to her roots, she said she loved reading up on and researching the history of dishes and the variations across the continents.
“Food, cooking and entertaining are a huge part of my cultural identity. Food is an integral part of every festivity and prayer with specific traditional dishes for specific occasions.
“I try to honour these festivities and occasions by preparing food I have seen my mom and grandmother cook all my life.
“I love my culture and religion so you will find me carrying my bindis with me on my travels and pairing them with Western clothing.
“My jewellery pieces are statement pieces of traditional Indian jewellery in costume jewellery. so I tend to carry a few pieces with me too.”
Ramasami said her lifestyle blog, “Spice Goddess”, represented the lifestyle of a courageous woman who knew what she wanted and uses her creativity to learn from and support other businesses while nurturing her own.
On the advice she would offer aspiring influencers, she said: “Start now! Be respectful to other influencers, and grow your audience slowly. Find your own unique style and voice and you will find your audience.
“Be true to who you are. Read, watch, and learn.”