People, where you are looking for Estonian recipes? For most people, as well as for me, the main source of knowledge about Estonian cuisine is Nami-Nami blog. Curious mind, I mean myself, wants to know, who writes it, when, how and why. So… lets ask the author of Nami-Nami Pille Petersoo.
Dalia: How have you got the idea to write cooking blog? When did you write first entry, what it was about?
Pille: I’ve managed a popular Estonian recipe site, Nami-Nami.ee, since the turn of the century. However, in the beginning there were just recipes, and no discussion board (“forum”) as such, and I missed the interactivity aspect of sharing recipes with my readers. In June 2005 I accidentally came across two foodblogs (Melissa’s “Traveler’s Lunchbox” and Clotilde’s “Chocolate & Zucchini”), and realised that this was exactly what I had been missing.
I’ve been blogging now for over seven years, and still find it immensely satisfying and rewarding.
Dalia: Was it in two languages at once? Which language version today has more readers?
Pille: I did start blogging both in English and in Estonian. However, back in 2005 there were no Estonian foodblogs, and the number of comments I received on the Estonian-language blog was almost non-existent. Few months in, and I stopped blogging in Estonian and decided to upgrade the Estonian recipe site – and especially its discussion board – instead. It’s one of the two most popular Estonian-language recipe sites, getting over 3000 unique visitors a day.
Dalia: Is cooking and baking just your hobby, or your profession?
Pille: Cooking is a hobby, but a demanding one. I’ve been a stay-at-home mum for almost four years now – my kids will be 4 and 2 in January, and the third one was born on November 4th. I’m a sociologist by training (received my PhD at the University of Edinburgh in 2005). Before going on maternity leave, I was a senior research fellow at Tallinn University. At the moment I spend most of my kids-free time cooking, writing recipes or giving cookery classes. I do plan to return to academia after the maternity leave, however, and perhaps start researching sociology of food!
Dalia: How writing blog has changed your life? Do people recognise you in street as Nami-Nami girl?
Pille: It has changed my life considerably – I’ve got a regular monthly recipe column in Postimees (a major daily), I’ve written two well-received cookbooks (and am working on a third one), I edit the food section of a popular magazine “Home and Garden” as of October 2012, I’ve been on the TV and regularly speak on the radio. In February I was the “cover girl” for the main family magazine, Pere & Kodu. However, I think I can still walk on the street without being recognised really. Many people don’t know the “face” behind Nami-Nami, but they know Nami-Nami itself.
Dalia: Do you meet your readers? Any funny stories related to that?
Pille: I do meet my readers. I’ve often had a coffee or a meal out with fans of Nami-Nami English-language blog, who are visiting Estonia. And I’ve got to know quite a big number of the readers of my Estonian site, through various meetings and cookery courses. It’s always a pleasure.
Dalia: Are there many cooking blogs in Estonia? Do you meet other bloggers? Is there something like community of bloggers? Do you have some events together?
Pille: The number of Estonian foodblogs has skyrocketed over the last few years and I must admit I probably don’t know all of them now. There are quite a few communal activities – I visited Stockholm with a number of foodbloggers recently, and occasionally there are events open for all. Most of the foodbloggers meet on personal face-to-face basis, however.
Dalia: Do you belong to some international community of bloggers, official or non-official?
Pille: I began blogging about food back in 2005 – the number of foodbloggers wasn’t so huge back then, so you do have a sense of belonging to the “early batch” of bloggers.
Dalia: Any advices for “fresh” food bloggers?
Pille: Find a niche and decide on a focus. Great photos are a bonus, but if the recipes suck, the photos don’t help at all. You need to balance the visuals and the quality of recipes.
Dalia: What is a must to taste while visiting Estonia?
Pille: Black bread, wild mushrooms, forest berries, our excellent dairy products.
Dalia: What foreigners find most surprising in Estonian cuisine?
Pille: I think many expect it to be very heavy and boring, but are often pleasantly surprised, how varied it can be depending on the season. And many of the common ingredients – especially the berries and mushrooms – can be exotic novelties to foreigners.
Dalia: What types of dumplings you have in Estonia? What is Estonian word for them? Maybe some filling or shape, found only in your country, or some traditions related to dumpling making process? (I am asking this question because the title of my blog is translated as „Seven Dumplings“)
Pille: We eat pelmeenid, filled mainly with meat. That’s about it.
Dalia: What food or products Estonians dream about while being far from home?
Pille: Definitely black bread, kama (the grain mixture of rye, barley, oats and peas).
Dalia: What associations come to your mind speaking about Lithuania (in general and related to food)?
Pille: Ashamedly, not many. Zeppelins, for sure, and the cold beetroot soup during the summer, but apart from that I expect it to be rather similar to the Estonian cuisine, perhaps a bit more homely and with more Central and Eastern European influences.
Thank you, Pille, for being my guest! Aitäh!