poppy Mis

Once upon an Imam  Bayildi


My name is Poppy Mist, and I am the founder of Umami Journal - an online publication that produces vegan & or vegetarian recipes, explores the social, cultural nuances of food, and farming projects, etc.

Location: London
IG: @umami_journal
Website:  https://www.umami-journal.com

This is a collaborative project with illustrator Diogo Rodrigues & ceramist Bilgin Bernard, The Clay Assemblage - both of whom are based in London. Whilst I have always been obsessed with food, my background is actually in anthropology, with a specific focus on immigration.

I have worked with a wide range of London-focused organisations, such as the Food Inequalities Rebellion, Migrateful, and Chefs in Schools, and witnessed the power of food both bringing people together and radically setting them apart, so it is really important to me that Umami Journal goes beyond recipes and reflects this.

Food &

A dish to your heart?
︎︎︎ Imam Bayildi.

And the story behind?

︎︎︎ This is a traditional Turkish aubergine dish, otherwise known as ‘The Fainting Priest’, and legend has it, it originates from a Turkish legend in which an elderly Imam fainted after eating the dish, apparently due to its abundance of olive oil. My grandmother taught me how to make this when I was 6 and used to always relay the story to me when we made it together. We used to always combine it with a tzatziki yoghurt dip, which I taught her how to make when I was 4! Cooking with friends and family is really important to me. My 2-year-old cousin and I made tzatziki the other day together and it was such a powerful moment repeating history with a new generation.

“it was such a powerful moment repeating history with a new generation.”


Moments &

A dish takes you to your childhood?

︎︎︎ Macaroni and Cheese made by my Mum. (her version is actually pretty crap, but I’m nostalgic every time I eat it because it transports me back to her making it for me whenever I was sad as a child)

Guilty pleasure?

︎︎︎ Crisps, always. I was actually told at a young age by my GP that I shouldn’t eat crisps & that my body reacted to them - I remember crying and eating a bag of wotsitz on the way home! I avoid eating them now, but if I wanted to treat myself, I could easily eat a big bag.


Individuals or businesses whose stories deserved to be read?

︎︎︎ I love what Camilla Creates is doing - she’s a chef & herbalist based in the US & does a lot of work on reinterpreting ancestral wisdom through food and herbal medicine.

Where is your “third place”?

︎︎︎ I am happiest at Hackney Migrant Centre - especially speaking to their amazing kitchen volunteers & ex-clients who make the most AMAZING food and are such positive people to be around.
I am obsessed with their scotch bonnet hot sauce, and have made them promise to teach me their recipe when I am next able to go back!


What would you like to see in the future food scene?

︎︎︎For me, the future of the food scene needs to focus on two things:

1) Community engagement- we’ve seen lots of great social enterprises such as Migrateful & Breadwinners, connecting people through food & combatting social inequalities - we need MORE of these. They are truly fantastic & need to be celebrated. Food/eating is one of the few universal things that we all share, so what better way to bring people together. I also think if the food scene starts to engage more at the community/local level, then it could play a huge role in raising awareness around food poverty, which is huge in the UK & needs to be addressed by the UK government.

2) Sustainable eating- A key part of our ethos at Umami Journal is an emphasis on sustainability. We believe that even if people don’t want to give up eating animal products completely, they need to incorporate more plant-based, and locally sourced eating in their diets. Half of my family ate meat, and the other half were vegetarian - I know that we have to be respectful of other people’s choices, I am by no means lecturing everyone to suddenly give up all animal products, but I do think people need to engage more in where things come from and how they are sourced, both for their  health, & for the health of the Earth.

01 | @umami_journal 
02 | @xyzxyz