Hello, my name is Regula Ysewijn. I am a Belgian freelance photographer and graphic designer and this is my bit of the web where I tell my stories.

My first book Pride and Pudding will be published in Dutch (Davidsfonds) in Belgium october 2015 and in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, april 2016 (Murdoch).
It tells the history of the British pudding, from ancient times until present day.

I grew up in Flanders, I graduated art school as a graphic designer, did my specialist year in ancient printing techniques and did a degree in Fashion. Last year I graduated as a beer sommelier - we do have the best best beers in the world here in Belgium - and I've also been attending culinary school on Antwerp in the evenings for the past 3 years.

I am a collector, I have a huge amount of vintage and antique cookery books, baking moulds and other quirky kitchenalia.  I just love to hold that old and tatty book, knowing it has been used, centuries ago. I find it quite extraordinary that I can hold a book from the 1700's - it is humbling to read the words of these cookery book authors of times gone by, and emotional when you find little notes tucked into them.

But my love for the old and forgotten is not what defines me completely...

Everyone who knows me, or has spent a couple of hours with me, knows that I am obsessed with Britain.  It has been that way since I was about 5 or 6 years old. If you have a question about Britain, I will usually have an answer for you. Some of my British friends have remarked quite comically that I am training to be British. And in a way there is a bit of truth to that joke. Britain and its Britishness intrigue me and I love figuring out this country by reading books on social history and food culture.  As a child I never understood why adults would joke about British food, to me British food made sense. A lot more sense than Belgian food did. A proper 'fry-up' in the morning was and still is the perfect start to a busy day, and that most iconic of British meals, prepared well, is quite extraordinary. 

But how did a toddler come to fall in love with a country far away? 
It happened in the playground at school ...
I got fascinated by a skipping rope rhyme; it appealed to me like no other of the nursery rhymes. This rhyme told the story of a fairytale island to which you had to sail a boat and cross a water full of black and white swans. The island was small and green and surrounded by a large golden coloured stone wall with battlements. Then there was a gate, much larger than any man, but this land is the home of giants and dragons who all needed to fit through the gate. The heart shaped padlock remained closed with a large black key lying there scattered before the gate. A blacksmith with exceptional skills needed to be found to mend the magic key to the magical kingdom that is England...

I only needed to get to that island... so I did what every self respecting child would do, I nagged until they took my biggest wish seriously, pointing at the telly every time England was mentioned. They eventually took me to England for the first time on the maiden sailing of the Prince Philippe ferry boat. It was winter and very early in the morning when we left the port of Ostend to sail for Dover. It was my birthday present and to this day still the best gift they ever gave me.

I remember the first sighting of the white cliffs of Dover in the rising winter sun, it was like a small pale pink ribbon in the far distance, touching the sea with a delicate wave.

As we sailed closer, the ribbon changed from pink to yellow and when the sun had risen to cold white and grey. In the port the cliffs were towering high in front of me, crowned by Dover castle. I had never felt so overwhelmed. 

After the day trip my parents decided to my great delight to start spending our holidays in England. And so we travelled to Cornwall in search of King Arthur’s Camelot and Somerset, to follow Merlin to Avalon, and Scotland to walk in the footsteps of Scotland’s most famous rebel William Wallace.

I can still remember the food I tasted on our travels around Britain. A simple plate of smoked salmon and watercress in Inverness, Scotland, a Welsh rarebit by a rocky river in a Welsh village with an unpronounceable name, a tomato soup from a food van for breakfast in the Highlands - a proper chicken curry with popadoms in Glastonbury, Somerset, a beef stew in Dorset and a ploughman's lunch in Cornwall, probably I remember the last because it was also the first time I was allowed an apple cider.

It might surprise you when I tell you that I have always been a picky eater, but in Britain, there was never a problem.

But then came a time when we couldn't travel around anymore. England was missed dearly, especially when Marks & Spencer closed, depriving us of our little piece of England we were left with no British food to be found anywhere. 

So I had to cook it myself.
I had no money to buy a cookery book, and didn't know what book to buy, remember these were the days before the internet became a thing available to all. My mother, bless her, didn't teach me how to cook because she has no passion for it. But she did make sure we had a proper home cooked meal every day - if not a little overcooked, undercooked, or burnt at times.
Cooking programs looked daunting, my mums one cookery book looked boring, so how was I to cook... Then Jamie Oliver popped up on our screens and his super laid back way of approaching cooking gave me the confidence to try it myself. I messed up a lot, didn't have the proper spices or pots and pans, but I tried. And so I learnt to cook, without a book, just watching the Naked chef do his thing and taking notes.

I still cook like that today, without a book - unless it's a historical cookery book -, just on pure feeling. My dishes might not be complicated and posh, but they are real honest grub. Just what I like to eat as well. The product is of paramount importance, this means the provenance of the meat and dairy I use, and avoiding the evil processed foods at all times.

Local or regional food is important, it is what shapes our culinary landscape. 

What do I hate?
Intensive farming, cruelty, nasty food additives, food snobs and candy.

What do I love?
Honest natural food, the history of food, food bringing people together and burnt toast.