Dining in Times of COVID: Insights from a Food Blogger 0 63

By Dhara Gunawardene

During the lockdown in April and May 2020, my culinary skills were certainly tested. The delivery services came back online about a month or so after lockdown, so I had nothing else to do but engage in the usual millennial things such as cook,eat, and make the occasional TikTok video. 

Having been confined to my home for nearly 3 months, I was forced to research recipes to keep my food blog going. However, all that changed eventually when we were finally allowed to step out of the house once again, and I was back to visiting my favorite cafes, having embraced all the COVID-19 precautions.

Something I noticed however was that in Colombo, it is almost a second nature to us to go out and explore new dining spots. We’ve always been ready to support and visit a new restaurant or café as soon as it launches

Although we were cautioned to be very aware of the risk the virus posed, we still continued to visit places that made us feel safe and comfortable. Even if I did not have my food blog, I would still have visited places where I felt safe.

Rasai Machang (@rasaimachang) started out in 2015 as a hobby, but has since evolved into a passion that combines my interest in photography and food.

Being a part time blogger and full time foodie, has steered me to land a job in the food industry. To my friends and family, it came as no surprise when I joined a successful group of restaurants as their social media executive, but to me, this was not what I studied for. 

Having a Bachelor’s in Graphic Design, I never knew that a deep interest in food and dining could land me a job that paid to eat. This is something that my waistline does not thank me for. This amazing job has also allowed me to observe spending habits, as well as the ever-changing restaurant culture and food trends. 

What I’ve learned is that people get bored very fast. Restaurants and cafes need to keep up with trends, or they get left behind. Many restaurants closed down in 2020 due to a lack of cash flow, but also for their inability to think outside the box. 

Restaurants that thrived on dine-in customers, including tourists, soon experienced empty tables and snail-pace days. Why? They could not adapt fast enough to survive. Many restaurants quickly hopped on local delivery platforms and managed to keep their sales going. Some restaurants in the South that were heavily relying on tourists, moved their restaurants closer to Colombo to cater to the local market.

What I admired about some cafes and restaurants was how hard they worked to push through and survive these uncertain times. They changed their menus, changed their marketing photography style, upped their social media game and gave crazy offers. All this, to survive for a better day. 

Who helped them the most? Their loyal patrons did. People ordered delivery, takeaway, and some brave souls would even visit and sit at their favorite dining places despite the fear of COVID-19.

The new ‘restaurant culture’ is one where people are nervous about stepping out. Besides the fear of infection, most people have less money in hand these days. Some have lost jobs and others are on reduced salaries. Due to this, the average spends at restaurants is lower. 

I’ve also noticed that people prefer ordering directly to their homes no matter the restaurant, just because they’re safer and more secure in their own home rather than at a restaurant with other diners. Spending habits have decreased, and people, including myself, tend to go for deals and promotions rather than spend the full amount. 

In these unpredictable and unnerving times, people are looking for the new thing, the new deals; some kind of  distraction. Restaurants put out new menus and new items, for people have a form of escape.

Social media plays a major role in the customer decision making process. For example, when you hear about a new restaurant or café, you would immediately search for them on Facebook, Instagram or Google. If that  restaurant has an effective social media feed, it’s guaranteed that people will keep visiting for the aesthetic appeal. 

I follow this method as well; I only visit and review a restaurant once I have researched their establishment and seen their feed. It is important to me that restaurants have a strong brand, because it helps them create a loyal fan base and it helps them generate more foot traffic.

Food culture depends a lot on the trends around the world; what’s hot and what’s not. Then again, social media plays a big role because you see trends online and then try to follow a similar design.

In my view, restaurants and cafes should understand their local market and then cater to it in their own distinctive ways. It will be a while before tourists return, however it is only the locals who can help sustain and grow businesses. 

Since people cannot travel out of Sri Lanka, it is also important to create dishes and dining experiences unique to Sri Lanka. We shouldn’t copy and try to be like international restaurants, we should set our own standard. We can certainly emulate or be inspired by international players but not copy blindly. 

It’s very important to remember that when we had zero foreigners visiting, we always had the support of local customers. The minute you forget who you are really catering to, (pun intended), is when you stop being relatable. 

Being relatable is so important because people want to identify with a brand. They want to feel good and be appreciated when they visit. I do believe that restaurants in Sri Lanka could also use influencers to further promote their brand. It is certainly a cost for the restaurant industry, but sometimes you have to lose a little to gain a little.

I for one, can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2021. What I love about this industry is that it’s always changing, it’s always evolving and adapting. It’s amazing! And it’s even more amazing how we bounce back and how much support restaurants and cafes get from their loyal patrons. It’s this love and support that can help make or break a brand.

I certainly urge people to use caution, but also don’t forget to support your local restaurant or café. They need your help and you need food. It’s a win-win situation! Because, after all, you are the trend maker.

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From fat to fit – In conversation with Chamara Kasthuriarchchi (lean_lk) 0 885

How does healthy eating affect your life?

From Fat to FitChamara, who is a diet, workout and nutrition consultant with many years of experience and has transformed many number of people from ‘fat to fit’, explains how healthy eating affects our body and mind.

I know that many of us love to eat fast food, but it catches up with us in the long run. While eating healthy would stop you from getting sick, and lower the cost of health care, healthy eating can enrich your body and prevent you from getting high doctor bills.

Eating healthy can be a challenge, Are you up to it?

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Taking care of your health should be a priority for every individual – and it is critically important for anyone struggling with obesity or diseases. Without good health life can be very difficult. For those who are naturally healthy, it is easy to ignore healthy eating habits because they tend to believe they are invisible. But, poor eating habits will catch up with you eventually.
Now is the time to pay attention and make necessary changes; As you search the web for the best foods to eat to build and sustain a healthy body, the answers may sound fairly simple – eat only foods that are good for your body. In fact, isn’t that a non-brainer?

But then, eating anything has its limits, anything excess is bad for the body, lifestyle advice should be appropriate, safe and effective. Everyone understands that proper nutrition is not only control of the calories and endless diet, but a complete diet, which must contain all the necessary products; meat, cereal, dairy, fruits and vegetables. People need to avoid ‘harmful’ biscuits, chocolate, semis and sugary sodas in large quantities. Often we eat what comes to hand: something we can buy and quickly reheat in the microwave. Sometimes there is no time to identify whether the product is harmful.

The main criterion of choice in food are tasty, fast, satisfying and cheap.Healthy lifestyle is a daily package of measures, which consists of a proper balance diet, exercise, avoiding harmful habits, a positive and balance view of the world. Healthy people wanting to lead a healthy life do not necessarily go to a dietitian and buy huge amounts of books on nutrition, which sometimes are frustrating and confusing. In order to feed themselves and their families with healthy and proper food, it is enough to follow a few rules of modern dietetics.

The most important rule is that, it is necessary to maximize enriching the meals we eat. It is desirable to increase the use of vegetables and fruits – then your body will not have a vitamin deficiency. Also it is necessary to reduce the amount of animal fats, partially replacing them with vegetable oils. Limit consumption of pure sugar and salt. It is better to substitute confectionery sweets with honey and dried fruits, salt – with spices.

Sticking to a healthy diet is very simple. To do this you need:

  • Learn how to cook healthy food.
  • Follow a few simple rules of eating.
  • Eat only fresh, healthy foods.

The main rules of healthy eating you should try to follow are;

  • Reduce animal fats.
  • Eat more foods rich in saturated fatty acids such as Omega 3 (red fish, vegetable oils, nuts).
  • Eat foods that contain fibre (cereal, vegetable, fruits, and dried fruits).
  • Eat freshly prepared dishes.
  • Do not fry in butter and completely eliminate margarine from the diet.
  • Abandon overly salty foods.
  • Instead of full cream milk use milk products (kefir, yogurt, fermented milk)
  • Meat, fish, poultry must be freshly cooked.
  • Every day eat a fresh vegetable salad or fresh fruit salad.

From my own experience I know that in order to follow the rules of a healthy diet, I need to limit eating the following foods: salt, sugar, smoked and fried food, fatty pork, pastry products, canned and preserved foods. Of course a complete rejection of harmful products require a huge effort of will. But a bad mood can become better after a piece of cake – do not worry. Stress is much more dangerous for the body than a piece of cake. Try to live without stress, in harmony with yourself – it is another important rule that shapes our healthy lifestyle.

The role of healthy food in a person’s life cannot be overstated. Almost all our health problems originate from the inability or unwillingness to organize regular diet. Healthy diet combined with regular exercise, reduces the risk of chronic disease and disorders such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pleasure and cancer.
Eat right, and the results will not keep you waiting!

“Panigrahana and Kalyana – A flavour that was buckled” 0 615

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Bonded and an embraced journey reminiscences on how “a flavor that was buckled” in a rapport of Two Humans for a Soul affiliation. Yes, I mean Marriage. Elders define marriage as:  A connection of Souls, a culture of love, an Aroma: Spice, Regret, Benefits, and Happiness (Childbirth pleasure), privacy, kindergarten joys, parenting and an un-prescribed journey in marriage livelihood.

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Culturally and historically, recalling marriage during the primitive age ‘was like an ape taking an apple from the ground, and distributing the fruit to its people’ sounds interesting. Fruit offered not because of lending charity to its family, but, it was a showering love and care for its family. Yes, it was a customary practice and women were treated as (Lakshmi) – a Griha Swamini (a Lords of the House, and priority for them, was family). Primitive day’s discussions between a husband and a wife were a gesture of noble act and kindness that has affection towards each other, a person cries – and a wife/husband wipes each other’s tears with a smile.

The word called “Relationship” in primitive age was a manifestation of a dedicated long-lasting bonding. Marriage was still continuing despite; husband/wife perishes from the earth. A primitive thought of utmost importance was to offer garlands in every path of the journey and in day-to-day and minute to minute conversations.

Panigarahana-and-Kalyana---BiZnomicsEver since science improved, more manners in a relationship started changing. To quote the kingdom dominated era during those days brought more extra-curricular affairs as a culture, where the husband (rather a man/woman) wanted more satisfaction to their wants rather than their needs. In Kingdom, a King arrives – his entry was garlanded with ladies dancing in an embraced process. This pro-activated custom changed the environment and slaved the thought process of human and their desire was taken to a different mode – which perhaps, made thinking changed.

Follow-up and extracting a few tips from the Kingdom era – is what in today’s world we find more cases of divorce, rather than a healthy marriage life. What is defined here today is that a healthy marriage can still take the flavours of primitive thoughts, but with more requirements (today, being Credit Cards, Branded Dresses, Money, Wealth, Properties, two children per couple. Dating apps, and approach of dressing sense, and privacy concept is eliminating a bond, and it is just a paper ritual, called Marriage. They (couples) prefer a more conscious approach and forget their childhood which was full of joy.

Cont..

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