Foodgasm, from Slavonia.
Many friends of Ena Kokanović say that she’s the female version of Gordon Ramsay because of her hairstyle and her vocabulary that successfully combines the seemingly incompatible. Slavonian empanada, štrukle that actually aren’t, vegan ice cream and noodles are just some of the many recipes you can find on her blog. Holding an MA in media culture, Ena found her true passion in cooking, and in her village of Gundinci in Slavonia, she recently opened up a firm, taking steady steps towards new success.
Why did you start a food blog?
I’m very driven person. I love to work on something all the time and I don’t necessarily mean work in the typical sense, that I need to be paid for, I love to volunteer and do something for others as well as for myself. I think this is the real reason I started this blog – to have something to work on that I love, and work with stuff I love the most – food!
What are your cooking inspirations? A famous chef, your mom, a cookbook, a blog…?
I said this before and I need to say it again – my inspiration is very simple, it is, most of the time, all about what I want to eat at that moment. I love reading cookbooks, especially those about traditional Croatian cuisine and, of course, traditional Slavonian cuisine. Now that I’ve been around a little bit longer in the food blog world, I have to say that my colleagues, food bloggers, inspire me the most.
From your point of view, what is it that draws the audience to your recipes and food images/videos?
I think that’s because I’m scattered all over the world when it comes to cuisine. I really love making traditional Slavonian dishes but I’m also in love with Chinese recipes. There’s something for everyone on my blog – for the traditionalists and for people who are willing to try new things! I think that food is something beautiful and you can learn so much about culture when you explore the traditional cuisine of different regions.
What are Slavonians most surprised by in terms of you being a food blogger?
I come from small village in Slavonia and I think that I’m the only food blogger here. I’ve only had positive feedback about me being a food blogger so far, and people think that it’s really cool to have that kind of platform. There are always people who think that working on something just because you love it, it is a waste of time, and I get it, but really, I love being busy with something all the time and when it’s something tasty, I sure as hell won’t stop it.
For you, which meal or products best define Slavonian cuisine?
When it comes to the region where I’m from, Posavina, it’s most definitely kulen and ham. My favourite savory recipes are čvarkuše and cernički ćupteti. Čvarkuše are little pies made of dough filled with pâté made from pork crackling, known in Croatian as čvarci. Cernički ćupteti is also a kind of dough that is cut into small squares and in every square, you place little bit of sausage meat, and, of course, fresh Slavonian sausage. I have a sweet tooth too, and when it comes to sweets, I love cookie that is called… well, in my house we call it ”don’t touch me boy”, so, it’s very convenient for this interview! These cookies are made of pastry that is made of sour cream, lard and flour. They’re filled with rosehip jam and they taste like little pieces of heaven.
What’s your favourite place to eat in Slavonia and Baranja?
This is a tough one. Actually, I have few restaurants that I really love. One is near my home village and it’s called Đeram, in the village of Velika Kopanica. In Slavonski Brod, everyone knows I’m absolutely in love with the restaurant “Oroz” and I’d eat there every single day if I could. They have domestic food on the menu like stew – čobanac, bean stew or just a regular meat stew. They also have a great grill and the pizza is amazing. In Slavonski Brod, I love to eat at restaurant Antik. In Osijek, I love to go to Merlon, they have the most amazing selection of burgers. In Baranja, I love Didin konak in Kopačevo, it’s so pretty over there and you can eat some amazing fish paprikaš (fish stew). They serve it in a big pot and you just have to take some of it home with you because you can’t eat it all. I think that there are many good restaurants in this region and I have so much to do to explore all of them.
What is your guilty food pleasure?
My savory ”guilty food” is most definitely potatoes. Baked, cooked, French fried… I love it. With some good homemade ketchup, I could live on just that. When it comes to sweets – cinnamon rolls are my number one at the moment.
What’s your best-kept cooking secret or tip?
Would it be a secret if I told you? It ‘s not a secret, it’ s really a motto that I follow – In everything sweet you have to put some salt; in everything savory you have to put some sugar!
How do you see Foodgasm by Ena evolving in the future?
I would really love to work with some domestic brands in the future. I love to create recipes with products that are made here on Croatian soil. I’d love to see my blog grow and I’d also love to grow as food blogger and learn everything I need to know. I started my own firm a few months ago, and that would not have been possible without this blog. You have to work on what you love and good things will come to you, don’t wait, work.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
We have some amazing food bloggers here in Croatia and their content is very good. It’s really nice to be a part of that kind of community. I’d like to say to anyone who is thinking about starting their own blog, do it. Don’t hesitate, it will bring you joy and some amazing friends. Just as it did to me.