A food blogger from Dalston has become an internet sensation by documenting every forkful of food she has consumed in the last year, even receiving marriage proposals for her efforts.
Virginia Patania, has even created her own YouTube channel instructing users how to create their own culinary masterpieces. The Eating the Year project, which finished last Wednesday, has clocked up more than 100,000 hits so far from all over the globe.
The 36-year-old NHS practice manager began the project after seeing a poster for a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich. She said: ”I wanted people to see that they could eat healthy and delicious food and still lead a full life.”
Patania tries to persuade her readers that eating healthily is easier than many might think. She prepared every meal on a single work surface in her Dalston flat that measured in at a mere 50 x 60cm and maintains that you do not need a lot of “time or money” to produce satisfying and nutritious meals.
She argues that the key to changing your attitude towards food is to consider it “a privilege” instructing fellow foodies “the more you invest in food, the more it gives you.”
Patania is half-American and half-Italian and spent 28 years in Sicily before moving to London. She says that this naturally means that she “eats lots of carbohydrates.” She writes: “The marriage between food and beauty is something so fundamentally woven into my DNA that I would find it impossible to escape it.”
Yet Eating the Year quickly became a huge undertaking for its creator. The admits that she has “had 50 breakdowns” and hardly slept during the project, spending three hours each night carefully documenting every bite.
“It has been insanely difficult and many times it has been embarrassing,” she added. On one occasion it was necessary to remove clams from a bin in order to photograph them.
Despite these difficulties, every meal has successfully been documented for the whole world to scrutinise. She described the blog as “an immense privilege” and an “insane exercise in passion and discipline”.
The blog has become a source of foodie counselling for local residents. Not only does she offer recipes, but she also reviews eateries in the East London area.
Asked if she would ever undertake the task again, Ms. Patania responded “not on your life!”.
You can read some of her entries below and find out more about he culinary adventure at www.eatingtheyear.blogspot.co.uk
Days eaten: 33
Days to eat: -332
“So Eva and I head out locally for brunch at my beloved Nude Espresso, where I have portobello mushrooms and spinach with truffled scrambled eggs on sourdough toast, along with a cappuccino. I feel better already.”
Days eaten: 215
Days left to eat: -150
“The North Sea Fish Restaurant is such a quaint, old-fashioned restaurant that you might be led to believe you have just left London… My starter is a fishcake with some salad garnish, and it’s a real treat. It tastes homemade, old-fashioned, fresh and wholesome. It comes served piping hot, and each bite delivers the most satisfying crunch. The fish is flaky and fresh, and the potatoes come in nice chunks which assure you that the patty is carrying pretty much the same ingredients you’d be using at home, if you were a good cook. It comes practically unsalted, so I need to sprinkle a fair amount of salt and lemon to make the dish come alive. Having done this, it’s a perfect fishcake.”
Days eaten: 327
Days left to eat: -38
“Once at the right end of the 40 minute queue, it’s finally time for food. Brunch at Kipferl holds a decidedly quirky and sausage-heavy selection, and the most classic option I can spot on the menu is skillet bacon and eggs with rye bread. Simple as this might sound, it’s really delicious. The bacon is smoky and thinly cut, the eggs have a lovely, crispy edge, and the rye bread sops up the juices like a sponge. A simple but lovely dish.”
Days eaten: 356
Days left to eat: -9
“I reward myself for having lifted my arms a few times by going to Fred&Fran‘s for brunch. And what a reward. In their usual five star performance mode, my portobello mushrooms on toast with chilli, garlic, mint and creme fraiche are splendid. Alive, fresh, simple and sophisticated all at the same time. If I had guests who were staying in London for one night only I’d take them to Fred&Fran’s and pretend we eat like this all the time.”
By Sophie Murray-Morris