Claire, why did you decide to create a vegan recipe zine?
I have always enjoyed cooking (and eating!) and after going vegan I started to veganise all the foods I had liked before, especially the foods I ate back home in Belize. We eat a Caribbean/Latin American fusion there and I always really miss it. People suggested I do the zine and I thought it was a great idea so I went for it. Issue 1 was more focused on Belizean recipes and Issue 2 is stuff I have eaten on my travels which has inspired me.
Who did the lovely cover artwork?
My brother Sean did the artwork, he is a very talented illustrator and animator and I can give him an idea and he always knows exactly what image I want from it.
What are your own favorite cookbooks at home?
I don’t really use cookbooks but one of my favourite chefs is Skye Michael Conroy who writes the Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook. He is a culinary wizard. And Gerzson, the baker from vegan cake shop Earthcake here in Bristol, does the most amazing cakes I have had, vegan or otherwise.
What are your favorite flavors there?
My favourite flavours in cooking are coconut, cilantro (coriander), garlic and chilli. I am a big fan of hot sauces and Belize makes one of the best hot sauces in the world 🙂 I don’t really have a sweet tooth and I am allergic to chocolate (I know I know!) but I had the most amazing coconut sorbet in Mauritius and I have been meaning to make my own for ages. And anything Earthcake makes is always a winner!
I noticed you only put in b/w pics in your zine selectively…so: Pictures of the dishes in recipe zines/books: yay or nay? (Veganomicon had almost none)
Honestly that is mainly just due to the cost of printing in colour. They are selectively put in based on which ones I had that actually looked ok in black and white. I may do colour in the future as I plan to bring out a full cookbook some time soon. I do post photos of the stuff I make on the Bakabush Vegan Instagram and Facebook pages. I think photos of food that looks really tasty can really inspire people to make their own and it is also a great way to show non-vegans how awesome vegan food actually is. But sometimes people get disappointed when what they make doesn’t look like the photo they have seen of it! That is why I don’t spend huge amounts of time on the presentation of the food photos I post online and I just use my iPhone to take the photos, because then they look more realistic.
Where do you currently live and please introduce those who live with you, too?
I live in Bristol, UK. I moved over to the UK 15 years ago from Belize. Bristol is a really cool city but I do often wish the weather was better! I am the human companion of a rescue Jack Russell/Staffie cross called Rolo who we adopted 4 years ago. He has such a larger-than-life personality and is so intelligent. He is also very mischievous and a real handful sometimes but I adore him. He is even greedier than I am though!
Tell us more about Belize, please: which traditional food is “accidentally” vegan?
A few of the staples are such as rice and beans, which is cooked in coconut milk. Also plain dukunu is vegan as it is corn maize steamed in corn cob leaves. And we have another dish called panades which are fried corn patties stuffed with beans. Plantain chips are a great vegan snack and as a kid I would always pick up bags of sliced green unripe mango from street vendors on my way home from school, which we eat with ‘pink salt’ (hot chilli sauce mixed with salt). I have made that for people here in the U.K. but most didn’t seem to like it much haha!
And what was your favorite dish there?
I love garnaches, they are basically fried corn tortillas topped with refried beans, cheese and hot sauce. Really simple but easy to veganize if you use vegan cheese
Mayan culture, rrefs and beautiful landscapes…which places should we check out if we went there?
Well Belize now has the largest Barrier Reef in the world as sadly Australia’s has been officially declared dead. If you are into snorkelling or scuba diving then there is a great Reef atoll called Glovers Reef, and there is also The Blue Hole, which is a collapsed cave out at sea which is visible from satellite. I would also highly recommend checking out the rainforest, there are walks you can do, but you gotta watch out for spiders and snakes, we do have a few very poisonous snakes. There are some amazing Mayan Ruin sites as Belize was the main centre of their civilisation. There are still lots of Mayan people living in Belize today who have kept a lot of their culture alive, and there are still 3 different Mayan languages spoken by them in Belize. There are a lot of nature reserves, one of my favourites is a sanctuary for howler monkeys, they are really small but they make one hell of a loud noise! And definitely go swimming in one of the inland rivers, where the water is crystal clear.
What’s it like to be vegan over in Bristol (supermarket and restaurant wise)?
Bristol is really great for vegans, and is getting more and more vegan-friendly as time passes. The supermarkets are getting better, a couple of them have started making their own brand vegan cheeses and milks and stocking more vegan items but we still have a loooong way to go before we compare to places like Berlin. Still, it is nice to have more options than falafel and bean burgers when we go out!
Where is your favorite spot to eat out?
It is really hard to decide! I have lots of favourite places depending what type of food I want at the time. Last night we went to Pepe Nero who do loads of different types of vegan pizza and you can have 20″ ones. One day I am going to take that challenge and finish one!
How many slices are you away from success?
I think about 4, I will let you know when I finally eat it all!
What else do you do for fun?
Apart from cooking and eating I love going out to eat, travelling, reading, dancing, going to gigs, spending time with my dog and animals in general, and watching horror films (especially ones with zombies).
Are you also straight edge?
I am not, but I have a huge amount of respect for those who are and I have several close friends who are edge. I really don’t like it when people are negative about someone’s choice to be straight edge, you see a lot of that kind of shit online. I do however think that it is hard for people who aren’t cis het males to feel safe and welcomed in the whole straight edge scene as it is so dominated by that group. But there are a lot of really strong people out there who don’t fall into that category who are working to change that.
.straight edge 1998