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What's This?

Wasabimon (a.k.a The Culinary Life) came in as one of the Top 50 Food Blogs of 2011. If you’ve ever perused this blog, you were probably not surprised. Stephanie Stiavetti, the mastermind behind Wasabimon, puts a lot of love into the blog. Stephanie was diagnosed with gluten intolerance, her blog focuses on gluten free foods, but it is not immediately apparent. This is a blog any foodie can enjoy. We caught up with Stephanie to learn a bit more about her life, her passion for food and her blog .

FriendsEAT: What inspired you to start “Wasabimon”?

Stephanie Stiavetti: Originally, I had learned that I needed to follow a special diet and had no idea how to cook for myself according to these new rules. I wanted to log my adventures for friends, as well as others who were on the same road as I was. These days, my dietary needs have changed, so Wasabimon is more general – though I still post a lot of gluten-free recipes. In fact, I’m changing it to a new domain soon

FE: Should we call the blog Wasabimon or The Culinary Life?

SS: The Culinary Life, since that’s the new domain I’m moving to. Wasabimon was a nickname someone gave me years ago. As a title, it stopped making sense as my culinary tastes grew outside of sushi.

FE: For those who are not familiar with your blog, how would you describe it?

SS: As a food blog, Wasabimon covers a wide range of topics from recipes to book reviews to food-related blather. Posts run the gamut of culinary culture, centering specifically on seasonal foods, organic cooking, nutritional health, food photography, and all around creative taste-making. One thing’s for sure: you won’t find any prefab, synthetic, or HFCS-laden foods here. Gross! Wasabimon is all about eating well – in every sense of the word.

FE: How did your life change when you found out about your gluten intolerance?

SS: As you can imagine, it was a drastic change. I had no idea how to cook for myself without any sort of flour products! I had to completely re-learn how to cook. And, I noticed that the entire world wasn’t as accommodating to my new lifestyle as I expected they would be. Naively, I thought that family, friends and restaurant staff would not only embrace my needs, but applaud me for finding a way out of illness. Not so. I met more confusion and frustration than I ever imagined, mostly from friends and family – the people who were supposed to be supporting me above all others.

FE: There’s a lot of confusion about gluten. There are many people who follow a gluten free diet as a fad. Can you shed more light into gluten intolerance?

SS: I really dislike the idea of gluten-free diets as a fad. I someone feels better eating no gluten, then great. Why should we stigmatize or diminish someone’s dietary choices, downplaying them as “trendy?” Turns out, a gluten allergy can manifest itself in all sorts of ways: fatigue, dizziness, various digestive disorders and a host of other systemic problems that tend to go misdiagnosed by uninformed medical staff. If you suffer from these symptoms, wouldn’t you do whatever you had to to get rid of them?

FE: What is the one gluten laden thing you miss the most?

SS: Perfectly puffy eclairs, hands down.

FE: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting a food blog?

SS: First, I’d tell them to read Dianne Jacobs’ “Will Write for Food.” As a book, it explains a lot of what you need to know about voice, honing your topic, etc. Second, I’d recommend new bloggers try to find other bloggers in their area. Community is so important when it comes to keeping your stride, and more experienced folks have worked through the bugs you’re bound to discover yourself.

FE: You are working on a book (a collaboration with Garrett McCord). How different is writing a book versus writing a blog?

SS: Very different. First, we’re working with an editor, which is something I believe all bloggers would benefit from. Besides catching typos and keeping things consistent, editors help you hone your voice. It’s an entirely different, incredibly educational, experience.
And it takes a lot longer!

FE: What is a typical day in your life like?

SS: These days I get up and go to work for eight hours – I had to stop freelancing full time when the economy fell apart. Then I come home, test some recipes for the book, work on a few blog posts, and try to find time to shoot the food I’ve been cooking. It’s a lot harder to do this with a full time job, I tell you!

FE: What was your childhood kitchen like and what is your kitchen like now?

SS: I moved a lot as a child, so I don’t really have a solid memory of any one kitchen. My grandmother also moved a lot, so same goes for her kitchen.

FE: What has been the most exciting thing that has happened as a result of you starting “Wasabimon – The Culinary Life”?

SS: Honestly, the people I’ve met are the most awesome part of my blogging experience. I’ve traveled all over, become part of an incredible community, and made some life-long friends.

FE: What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?

SS: These days? I’d say artisan cheese. This is probably because I’m making a ton of macaroni and cheese for the book, but really, there are so many flavors and varieties of cheese that the possibilities are endless.

FE: What are your favorite cookbooks and why?

SS: Right now, it’s Stephane Reynaud’s French Feasts. He’s done such a lovely job on the book. The recipes are lovely while remaining simple, and the whole thing is an experience. I highly recommend it.

FE: If I say chocolate, you say?

SS: I say eclairs! Or ganache, or anything similarly rich and chocolatey.

FE: Where do you see food blogging in five years?

SS: I see it changing a lot, taking a more multimedia spin. People can only read static blogs for so long until food society starts to get bored and ask, “What next?” Something will certainly change, and it’s anyone’s guess as to how it will reform itself over the next five years.

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Blanca Valbuena
I am one of the co-founders of FriendsEAT. Obviously, I love to eat. Other passions include A Song of Ice and Fire, Shakespeare, Dostoyevski, and Aldous Huxley.
Blanca Valbuena