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Varsovians: Basia Starecka

She resigned from her post of a vice editor of a culinary magazine “Kukbuk” to have more time for writing and traveling. Today she is one of the most influential writers of the Polish culinary scene. Her texts can be found in “Wysokie Obcasy” or “National Geographic Traveller”.
She has been running her blog “Nakarmiona Starecka” with reviews, recipes, and culinary tour guides for seven years.

You run away from Warsaw more often recently. Why?
– Since I resigned from my regular post, I can do it. But this is not an escape. Travels have always been vital for me. Tasting the world for our family was always natural. I got this as a present in my early childhood.

That’s why in adult life you decided to write about food?
– Maybe. But also different things had an influence on this. My mother, like many mothers of that time, didn’t cook. I was growing up in food deficit. I remember how she was throwing eggs into boiling water with a disgust. My grandmother was the only link with homemade dinners. Unfortunately, she died when I was 11 years old. 

I have been collecting culinary books from my childhood and dreamt that when I grow up, I will make jam. Eating for me evokes many emotions – it is love, a form of expressing your feelings towards other people and yourself. If I don’t eat decently, I feel not loved. 

How did you organize your life on freelance?
– I introduced a discipline.

Interesting. You didn’t sleep until midday?
– No way! That’s not me. I used to get at 6:30 AM. Dark outside, and I was running for my training. I had a schedule prepared for a whole day. During four months I wrote 30 texts. 

You’re talking about it in past tense.
– Because I realized that I cannot plan everything even though I would like to and I just simply like it. I read about day schedule of other writers: Orbitowski goes on training at a specific hour, Springer reads his emails at Wrzenie Świata. They have their rhythm. I just couldn’t find it. I had to let go. I allowed myself to work at different times of a day.

And that I don’t engage in everything. I just prioritize. I often ask myself a question: “Do I really have to be there. Does it change something in my life?” I resigned from a regular job to have more time at home with my husband and a dog. Sometimes with Piotrek we have such days that we just stand in the kitchen and cook. And this is super cool. My dreams of making jam are finally coming true.

You don’t complain about lack of commissions? You are a real influencer.
– Oh stop it! I had fears that I will not have any commissions, that I will have to go knocking from door to door asking for them. However, the truth is different. I travel around the world, I can write about it, and someone wants to read and publish it. I really appreciate this situation.

What would you like the best? Which is your dream direction?
– To live like this. I will never give up on Warsaw, because I belong here. However, to work for example from Japan or Korea, come back to my base from time to time – it seems like a nice perspective. 

What would you advise a young girl who is just beginning her adventure with journalism?
– That this is such an exciting work. You can get to know the world, filter it through your own sensitivity. You just need this childish curiosity. If you are not thirsty enough this work is not for you. 

Recently I have been asking you for some tips to an album “Culinary Warsaw” about the places you would recommend for different occasions. Let’s sum up.
– Guests from abroad and ladies from marketing I would take to Lotos for a herring. I recommend giblets and seasonal beef at Ed Red by Adam Chrząstowski to foreigners. For an anniversary with your boyfriend, I ‘d go to Brasserie Warszawska to eat some oysters or to Robert Trzópek’s Bez Gwiazdek. This is currently the best restaurant in Warsaw. For an everyday meal, I’d go to Mąka i Woda for a pizza or pasta, and for some cheese feast, I’d visit Luc Magnon’s Krem in Śniadeckich Street.

I choose Asian food: Koreanka and Vietnamka. I like Gringobar for its decent dose of spiciness and Mezze for their green from vegetable falafels. And where would I go with vegans? To Vegan Ramen Shop to cuddle Gudetama lazy egg and eat their ramen with cabbage, apples, and onion, then Youmiko or Wegeguru.

For an elegant dinner, I’d recommend definitely all Daniel Pawełek’s places. This is a genuine restaurateur, he never fails. Dinners at Rozbrat 20 or Kieliszki are worth every price. 

Agnieszka Kowalska
photo: Aga Bilska 

Basia Starecka
Basia Starecka

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