Meet Lenka, Wandering Senses

lenka of wandering senses interview

SenseForward interviewed, Lenka from Wandering Senses (instagram)to further explore how food and eating can stimulate all five of your senses: touch, taste, sight, smell, and sound. Read the full interview below:

  1. How has your relationship to cooking and food transformed over the years?

I grew up in a household where the culture revolved around food. We cooked meals and desserts in line with the season and loved to celebrate both big and small occasions with food. As well, no food could ever be wasted or thrown away. In recent years, I have had the chance to live in various places that I call home across the world – Slovakia, Nepal, and now the U.S. As one might expect, I dived straight into the food and delicacies specialized by all of these places. The more I traveled and lived in different countries, the more I realized that “less is more” in every aspect of life, food included. I still love experimenting with new and exotic ingredients whenever I bake or cook, but the most delicious food is made out of simplicity. For example, the best apple cobbler is made with apples from your garden and the best mango mousse is the one made with perfectly ripe mangoes in seaso

2. SenseForward believes that, whether we’re conscious of it or not, through our senses we intuitively respond to our environment and our nervous system follows. So, effectively and purposefully stimulating our 5 senses can enhance our lives and relationship with ourselves. Cooking is certainly a sensual experience, as is eating. How does this concept apply to you and your approach to food?

To be honest, when I first started to bake with my grandma, I was just focused on making the pastries taste good. I did not pay much attention to stimulating a sensual and pleasant experience when it comes to baking or cooking. But as I have made baking my profession now, I tend to focus on complexity, technique, presentation, and delivery. It is common in psychology that we start building interest in something that looks good in the first place. I have also learned more about the importance of texture in food through the book “Science and Cooking”. Texture provides extra information to our taste buds and dramatically changes our dining experience- just think of a perfectly creamy ice-cream and a gritty over- whisked whipped cream. These two are fairly made up of the same ingredients, but we get a completely different experience just because of how it feels in our mouths

3. What’s your go-to dish for entertaining?

There are plenty of them and I usually cook based on the season, mood, or the taste of my guests. Dumplings of any kind, though, would probably be seen most on the table – Pirohy, Pelmeni or Momos

  1. What’s your ideal menu for a dinner party?

Right now, it would be a sourdough bread with salted butter to start with (and to finish with, in my case too) and Ajvar (traditional Balkan eggplant & red pepper spread) with a crusty baguette. The preference for the main dish changes with the season, but I love the traditional Slovak cucumber salad made with sour cream, vinegar, and dill for summer. Along with this, a side of grilled fish or chicken never fails to impress. For dessert, I love to serve baked honey and rosemary figs with a side of vanilla ice cream or another traditional favorite, no-bake tvaroh (Slovak- style cottage cheese) and blueberry cake

  1. Do you have a #1 tip for hosting? – getting guests engaged

Relax and enjoy the company of your guests and get them engaged in what’s being served. Let your guests help you and make the meal together with you, talk about the food you’re about to eat and share the story behind it. By the time you’re ready to eat, all of you appreciate, understand and cherish the meal in front of you more

  1. Can you think of a meal or dish that incorporates all 5 senses? taste, touch, sight, smell, sound.

It would definitely be the traditional Nepalese Dal Bhat. When I lived in Nepal two years ago, I got introduced to completely new food and dining culture. Back home in Slovakia, we eat many meals with naked hands- bread, pastries, and savory pancakes. But in Nepal, almost every meal is eaten with naked hands and there is an interesting reason behind it. The people in Nepal believe that doing so deepens their relationship with food because you can indulge all five senses. First, you get to look at the vibrant meal on your plate, and then you dip your fingers to mix the Dal (Lentil Soup), curry, and Bhat (rice) to feel the texture. After that, you get to taste the deliciousness, along with experiencing a pleasant aroma. The Nepalese Dal Bhat is undoubtedly delicious to eat, but the experience of cooking it is what makes it special. You get to hear the sizzling sounds when spices like cumin seeds, dried red chilies, bay leaves, and cloves are cooked in heated mustard oil. The combined experience right from cooking to eating Dal Bhat makes all of my five senses happy

  1. What’s your most-used cooking tool or appliance?

As I am more of a baker than a cook, it is definitely my oven.

  1. What is your favorite ingredient?

There are two – flour and butter.

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