Interview with Mila Ivanova: talks about food and inspirations

Mila Ivanova photo

Mila is a journalist but I would rather say she is an artist and an inspirer. We know her from the magazines “Всичко за жената” (Everything About the Woman – in Bulgarian) and “Рецепти за здраве” (Recipes for Health). She is also the author of two blogs: Solunska 16, where she writes fabulous and soul touching texts and Eat, Travel Loove – a marvellous place about nature, travel and the joy of life.
Several years ago I had a period of my life when I was travelling a lot for work. On every flight I was bringing a whole bunch of magazines and one of them was always “Всичко за жената”. I loved its unique style: very personal, sincere and enthralling. I was very fascinated by the talent of its editor Mila Ivanova. At this time I didn’t imagine that one day she would contact me to ask if I would give an interview for her second magazine “Рецепти за здраве”, not even that one of my photos will be the cover of the issue!… But as Mila has had conversations with many Bulgarian food bloggers, I had the feeling that she has a lot of interesting things to tell us. I asked her if she could like to give and interview for Dani’s Cookings and she was so kind to accept!
I am sure that you are very impatient to read her thoughts and experiences on the topics of food, cooking and food blogs and to feel the world of her inspirations.

Daniela: Can you tell us how was created your second magazine “Рецепти за здраве” and why did you choose the food as its main topic?

Mila: We started the food magazine while we were still publishing the lifestyle magazine “Всичко за жената”. It came up a result of the increased search of quick, easy and healthy recipes. In the recent years the interest in healthy food is higher than ever so as a response we created a product to satisfy it. The goal of “Рецепти за здраве” is to bring ideas, without being pretentious and snobbish, and to inspire, without making people upset about not being able to find or afford certain product or about finding the recipe too complicated. Of course, the main topic of the magazine is health. Our trademark are the health related articles through which we aim to provide summarised information on a specific problem by using expert opinions. In the articles we are trying to clarify the usual confusion which people feel when reading contradictory sources. For example one day someone might find information that wine is good for the heart but on the next day another source says that if you care about your heart, you need to stop drinking wine… Our goal is to present objective and professional opinions on all health related matters and I believe we managed it as this magazine has already gained its loyal audience.
As you know, at one moment „Всичко за жената“ became a purely online magazine through the site MILA.BG and this is great because the paper magazine “Рецепти за здраве” is sold out quite fast but people can find at least part of its content online. That’s how it happened a women’s lifestyle magazine and a food magazine to be sharing happily an online space together… They are quite a good and healthy couple and you guys, the best food bloggers in Bulgaria, are their favourite guests 🙂

recepti za zdrave magazine

What does healthy eating means to you?

I can answer this question scientifically and philosophically. Science and myself are not very close friends, neither are we very interested in each other, but as I respect it a lot, I would like to speak from its prospective too.
Healthy eating is possible only when someone loves life and knows how to care about it. Healthy eating means to me eating in harmony: considering the origin of the products, their effect on our body and our actual nutrition needs. This also means to not allow any extremes, to eat diverse selection of products, to be informed, to be curious, to love food in general and the act of eating it. It also means to love yourself and your own body.

What is your opinion for the food blogs in Bulgaria? Are you noticing any tendency in their development?

The food blogs are a source of inspiration for me and I reflect this in the magazine “Рецепти за здраве” and in the site Mila.bg. I can see that their readers share my sympathy: they are genuinely interested to find more about the ladies behind the tasty places. I also admit that my favourite websites are the ones where we can find more about the real life of the authors, the stories from their life, their travels, their home living, the good and the bad moments of their days. However nowadays it happens more and more rarely the bloggers to allow strangers to see their homes and their life. Most probably that’s due to the “invasion” of the so called influencers who inundated the social networks with brands, hashtags and useless vanity. But that’s just a period that will end. The paid “reality” will not be fashionable forever because in my view sooner or later people will get bored with the photos of pretty bodies and expensive shoes and will want to go back to someone’s warm kitchen where with real human conversations will rediscover the things that are truly needed: food, cordiality, simplicity, being together with someone with love.

How often do you cook?

Every day. Not because it is needed but because this is my favourite thing to do. You won’t believe it but sometimes I feel guilty for being always in the kitchen instead of writing, for example. Or going to the gym. Or meeting friends whom I haven’t seen for ages… The truth is that cooking combines all things that I find most pleasant in life: creativity, warmth and care for the others and family dedication…

Do you have your own “speciality” or a dish that you make particularly well?

I have few hits in my playlist, indeed 🙂 I know they would always turn out well and I always tend to prepare them when I am in a rush, instead of making experiments. One of these specialities is beef tajine – it is incredibly easy but sounds like a very complicated and time consuming dish. I also make some nice starters: one with smoked fish, a recipe by Jamie Oliver, and one Kyopolou, which is also similar to Baba Ghanoush, but I always say it is invented by me. My friends like the chutney I make. In terms of desserts it is hard to say which one is my speciality as during the years I have collected quite a good number of recipes. For example my Raspberry Chocolate Muffins have been served for dessert in my friends’ wedding. I also love baking different pies with lots of butter and various flavours – for example apple pie with cinnamon, cloves, cardamon and nutmeg… Now it comes to my mind that next time I should add spicy pepper as well! When it comes to layer cakes, it is like listening to the King’s Orchestra: it’s all elegance, beauty and solemnity! But I need to confess you something here, Dani: when I decide to try a new cake, I first open your blog. I believe your orchestra and I can listen to it all the time! 🙂

Mila Ivanova photo

Do you have a favourite food? Is it related to specific memories?

As I already said, I like food, and yes, I connect some foods to specific memories. For example a toast sprinkled with olive oil reminds me of my childhood. Of course, at the time it wasn’t olive oil but sunflower oil, but still, even today one simple slice of bread can bring me back to my grandma’s kitchen. It was the place where not only I was able to feel the flavours of baked peppers and tomato soup but I was also feeling completely protected from everything bad in the world – something I kind of miss nowadays. I also love my mom’s dishes, all of them! Her stuffed peppers are absolutely the best! Her stuffed chicken is a masterpiece. When my son was younger once I asked him what he wanted for dinner and he said: “Chicken. But not the one of Jamie, the one of Grandma”.

Is there any food you don’t like or you would never even want to try?

I would eat almost anything because I am curious and because I like to collect tastes. However I am not sure if I would ever try any bugs or similar exotic dishes.

Apart from being a journalist, you are also the author of two blogs. How do you find time and energy for all your creative projects?

Well, I don’t 🙂 I would love to have more time for them because writing gives me something I can’t get from anywhere else. Writing puts me through a very useful (self)psychoanalyses which often helps me to overcome difficult moments or anxiety. I sit down with heaviness in my throat and I take it away through my fingers. When I put the last dot in my text, it turns out that the problem has become lighter. It has been dissolved in words. In addition these texts bring me connections with people who have read them – a sweet and enriching experience for me. And I am not talking about the numbers of likes and kind comments. I am talking about late night messages that I receive from people from all around the world. People who are awake at night, just have read my text which made them want to write me. They want to tell me about themselves and the effect of my words on them. These people give me the most genuine emotion that could be possible in our plastic virtual world. You can’t imagine how many life stories I have been told at night – from a stranger to a stranger, with no pretences, no secrets, no fear from tears.
I will keep writing and I am even planning to collect the texts from Солунска 16 on paper. But in order to do that I need to stop cooking for a while 🙂

Where do you find inspiration for all your inspiring projects?

Everything can be inspiring, you just need to open your radars. People are inspiring. Every beautiful thing around us a a stimulation for a new beautiful thing to be created. The pleasure of writing words is an inspiration as they come out of my fingers almost by themselves in order to find new forms of life. The weather is inspiring, especially the moody one. The rain that brings you home, makes you a cup of tea and puts you in front of the white paper in your pyjamas and woollen socks. Music is an inspirational explosion. Pain: it creates miracles. The kids are inspiring as they are the beginning, they teach us, give everything a sense, bring laughs and eternity. I love being around kids, I love cooking for them, writing for them, listening them, following them. Dreams are also inspiring. Unfortunately as the time passes they become weaker but until we keep taking care of ourselves, they will also live happily around us. And love… I have written so much about it and I recently realised that I didn’t even know it. Yesterday a very young girl asked me: “What is love?” To my own big surprise I replied to her: “A process”. And as I have now a new love recipe, maybe I am ready to cook also the perfect dish 🙂

Mila Ivanova Photo

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