Welcome, my name is Regula Ysewijn.
Regula = Latin for law, rule or ruler (see Regula Benedicti) and also the female form for Regulus which means King.
Origins: 3rd century Roman Switserland. The only country where Regula is a name.
Ysewijn = Old East-Flemish – Germanic îsan-win ‘ijzer-vriend’ which means ‘iron friend’.
I am a freelance food writer, award-winning book author, photographer and food judge.
I’ve been a judge for The Guild of Fine Food’s Great Taste Awards for six years, The Great British Cheese Awards and World Cheese Awards. In Belgium I am also one of the two judges on the our version of the Great British Bake Off (Bake Off Vlaanderen).
I have written two books. My debut book ‘Pride and Pudding – The history of British Puddings Savoury and Sweet‘ (Murdoch/Davidsfonds-WPG) tells the history of the British pudding, from ancient times until present day, savoury and sweet. No modern recipes appear in this book, I give the stage to the old and often forgotten flavours after meticulous research into each dish that took over 2 years. You can read more about it here >
In 2017 Pride and Pudding was shortlisted for the prestigious Andre Simon Memorial Award, Fortnum & Mason Award and it was also a winner in the Gourmand World Book Awards ‘Culinary Heritage’ category in 2017.
My second book is ‘Belgian Café Culture – A Portrait of the iconic café’ (Luster) – won the Gourmand world book award in the ‘Culinary History’ category in 2018. It is an ode to my Belgian roots being a trained beer sommelier, and a culture that is fading. Our café and beer culture is closely woven together. In my book I tell you the story of our café culture and the history. All documented with my own photographs for which I travelled around the country for a year. More about it here >
I grew up in Flanders – the Dutch speaking part of Belgium. I graduated art school as a graphic designer, did my specialist year in ancient printing techniques and two specialist years in fashion. Two years ago I graduated as a beer sommelier (I am Belgian after all) – and I also have a chef degree for which I have attended culinary school in Antwerp in the evenings for 6 years.
I am a collector of culinary history. I have a large amount of vintage and antique cookery books, baking and jelly moulds and other quirky kitchen antiques. 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 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…
Why am I such an Anglophile?
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 (except politics, unless if it’s ancient politics). 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.
After a couple of years my parents saw my infatuation wasn’t going anywhere and they eventually took me to England on a city trip to Canterbury. It was winter and very early in the morning when the ferry boat left the port of Ostend to sail to Dover. It was my birthday present and to this day still the best gift my parents ever gave me.
I remember the first sighting of the white cliffs of Dover in the rising winter sun, it was like a narrow 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.
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.
British food bad? Not at all!
As a child I never understood why adults would joke about British food, to me British food made sense. It might surprise you when I tell you that I have always been a picky eater, but in Britain, there was never a problem. I can still vividly 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 (I like soup at any time of the day) in the Highlands – a proper chicken curry with pappadums 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.
But then came a time when we couldn’t travel around anymore. England was missed dearly, especially when Marks & Spencer closed in Belgium, 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 and only 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 in a red notebook.
I still cook like that today, without a book – unless it’s a historical cookery book – just on pure fingerspitzengefühl (on 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 that is overly processed foods and additives at all times.
Local or regional food is important, it is what shapes our culinary landscape.
What do I loathe?
Intensive animal farming, cruelty, nasty food additives, food snobs & fads and candy.
What do I love?
Honest food, the history of food and culture, the makers: farmers, butchers, bakers, … Belgian beer, a perfect Victoria sandwich cake or Fraisier, the cracking sound of a freshly baked loaf of bread, cheese and the smell of burnt toast.
Contact me at regula(at)missfoodwise(dot)com
References of my work
My photographic work, blog and writing have been featured by BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and The Food Programme, the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Independent, Jamie magazine, delicious magazine, BBC History, and more. I am also a Great Taste Awards judge and a member of The Guild of Food Writers. For television I judge ‘Bake Off Flanders’ this year (2017).
I don’t only offer photography and writing, my graphic design and branding skills can help your business define its voice in a heavily crowded market.
Books I wrote, designed and photographed:
- Pride and Pudding (Murdoch Books 2016, Davidsfonds-WPG)
- Belgian Café Culture (Luster Books 2016)
Books I photographed:
- Rodenbach Rosso cocktail book – published by Palm breweries (NL-BE)
- The Taste of Belgium – Ruth van Waerenbeek – published by Grub Street (UK)
- Magic Soup – Nicole Pisani & Kate Adams – published by Orion (UK)
- Hemelse Soepen – published by Luster (NL-BE)
- Deliciously Glutenfree – published by Grub Street (UK)
- The book of Latin American Cooking – Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz – published by Grub Street (UK)
- Cooking like Mummyji – Vicky Boghal – published by Grub Street (UK)
- The Legendary Cuisine of Persia – Margaret Shaida – published by Grub Street (2017) (UK)
- Salt Butter Bones – Nicole Pisani & Kate Adams – published by Orion (2017) (UK)