Imagine a life traveling the world, meeting amazing people, eating delicious foods and documenting it for the world to see in these tantalizing recipes. Today, we meet Bohunka Kosova, who is living this dream life!
Bohunka is one of those people you meet who really seems to understand what life is all about. Her experiences far outweigh her material possessions and she will enthusiastically tell you a story or two from her travels over a home-cooked meal.
Originally from the Czech Republic, Bohunka travels solo, immersing herself into every facet of the local lifestyle in each destination.
She’s also a keen surfer and loves traveling to exotic surfing destinations. We’ve got to say that there’s probably a million guys (and girls) out there who are envying her relaxed, healthy lifestyle right about now.
If you are into food and travel (who isn’t?), then you really need to check out Bohunka’s website Authentic World Food. There you will find a selection of tasty recipes from a host of countries among stories from her travels.
While you’re at it, take a peek at her YouTube channel where she films these dishes being prepared by the locals she meets.
Our Interview with Bohunka
BT: Are you a chef by profession?
Bohunka: Not at all, ha ha! I studied horticulture, then I took a marketing course, and my last job was a Brand Manager in a huge global company.
In fact, the closest I came to a job in cooking was when I was in Ireland about six years ago. I helped in the kitchen to fry burgers and chips in a surf cafe on the beach, but that’s it.
BT: Filming authentic cooking is quite far from your education and career then. How did you get to this kind of project?
Bohunka: When I worked for the corporation, I started surfing and it changed my life completely. I fell in love with the sport. Unfortunately, my country (the Czech Republic) doesn`t belong to surf empires; it is completely landlocked. So I had to travel to surf. But the five weeks a year I was officially allowed to go by my employer definitely were not enough for me. So I was thinking what to do with my “career” to be more flexible, to be able to travel and surf more.
When I traveled to Sri Lanka for the first time, I stayed in a village house with two local women. Their curries and other Sri Lankan dishes were simply fantastic. One day, I sort of accidentally got into their kitchen…and it was stunning. I just stood with my mouth open for a few minutes. I fell in love with the kitchen instantly. The smell of the open fire and all the amazing ceramic bottles, filled from a well, standing neatly on the mud floor. There were no electric tools but there were loads of amazing kitchen instruments, and I had no idea what they were used for.
Then I got a chance to watch the ladies cooking. It was so interesting and I felt so grateful for this opportunity. This got me thinking that others would be interested too…and that’s how the Authentic World Food project was born.
BT: Do you film the videos on your own?
Bohunka: Yes, I do. It would be quite hard to find someone who would be willing to travel with me for a few months, film and not get paid.
The short introduction to each video I usually film with a tripod. Sometimes I ask someone local standing by to shoot it for me. It is great fun for both of us!
Of course, the quality of the videos would be much better if it is filmed by more people or at least using more cameras. But then the locals would feel more pressure and will consider it a much more “serious” thing than it is and they wouldn’t behave naturally compared to when I film them on my own with a camera that actually looks nearly like a toy for them (Sony Cybershot RX 100).
BT: How do you meet the people you film?
Bohunka: I usually meet them by a pure chance. Sometimes I meet them when I am looking for accommodation and stay with them. Sometimes I just start talking to them while walking and exploring and get an invitation for a cup of tea or lunch. Sometimes I become friends with the chef in a traditional restaurant I go to for food.
Locals, especially in Southeast Asia, are very friendly and hospitable, so it is easy. I guess I would have a much harder job to do the same in Europe, ha ha. But maybe I am wrong. I will definitely try one day.
BT: What has been the most interesting food preparation you filmed so far?
Bohunka: Firstly in a village in Sri Lanka, as it was the first time I had filmed and it was the place that inspired me to start the project, so it is very nostalgic for me as well.
Then I will never forget spending time with gypsies in a desert in Rajasthan in India. Everything there was so cool! Not only the cooking but everything around was fantastic. The way the lady was dressed, the way she always pulled down her veil when a stranger entered the “house”, the way she tried to hide tobacco in her bra… It was a really cool experience.
Read more in the blog post.
BT: The places you film are not shining, immaculate, five-star restaurants. Have you ever gotten food poisoning?
Bohunka: Actually yes, but honestly I expected it much earlier (eight months into my trip), as I didn’t shy away from trying different dishes because of my project and as I simply love traveling to places and eating authentic food. I got sick during a 48 hour-long train trip. Luckily I didn’t take a bus, ha ha!
Unfortunately due to my food poisoning I had no energy at all, even when the symptoms were gone. In about 10 days I went to the hospital and they didn’t find anything wrong. So I thought the lack of energy meant I was traveling too long so that’s why I was not enjoying my travels as much anymore. I even didn’t enjoy surfing at all, so I went back home.
Only later I found out I had parasites, which covered the walls of my lower intestines and didn’t allow me to absorb fats and nutrition. I lost six kilograms. I was fighting with the parasites for more than three months.
But I am okay now, fit again and ready for new adventures. (Read more about the “parasite anabasis” in the blog post).
BT: How do you find traveling solo?
Bohunka: I love it. Especially for surfer girls, it is very easy and fun. Firstly as surfers very often travel on their own, they are very open and friendly. So if I paddle out to the line-up on the first day, I say to everyone, “Hi, how are you? Where are you from?” …And the same day I am going to a party with them in the evening. So I am never alone. On the other hand, for my project, it is good to be on my own, as locals are much more open when seeing someone traveling solo.
BT: Have you experienced any tough situations?
Bohunka: Nearly not at all. I usually try to respect regular “safety rules”. I do not go outside in the night on my own on risky places, I respect the local dress code, I try to book flight tickets so that I get to the new place in the day time.
Only once, I was not careful enough about my stuff so I was robbed. It seemed like solo traveling females there were a target, as I spoke to a few other girls who had the same experience. As there were thousands of motorbikes on the streets, locals took the advantage of the chaos. Two people would ride past on a bike and simply pull down your handbag from your shoulders before disappearing in the crazy traffic. The unpleasant thing was that I had all my important stuff in the bag – passport included – and I was supposed to fly in about five hours to India. So I had to go to the Czech Republic instead, get a new passport and only then I got back to my travels.
Otherwise locals are usually very helpful. Especially when seeing girl traveling solo. I’ve been approached a few times for sexual “offers”, but I have found a firm “NO, thank you” was always respected.
When I was sick from the food poisoning, I was on a surf spot in the middle of nowhere in Borneo. I started to feel more sick again and then all of a sudden a surfer appeared there and guess what? He was a doctor and he had been traveling there the same length of time as me. So even in difficult times I was not on my own and had the best care. I am a lucky kid.
BT: You mentioned that surfing and traveling changed your life completely. How?
Bohunka: Yes, it “ruined” it completely, ha ha! But seriously, while I left my steady and well-paid job, I have taken complete responsibility of my life, and traveling and meeting loads of new, inspiring people has really broadened my horizons. If I write everything about how surfing and traveling have changed my life, it would take an entire article and it would be an extremely long one.
I think traveling is the best education ever. It is like a school where everything is very interesting, exciting and useful for your life. It’s also unlike any traditional school as travel actually even refutes lots of stuff we are taught.
When traveling, you realize that what we call “normal” is just an illusion of normality created by a certain society. As what is normal in my country may be the other way in another. The same thing can apply within a community, even a very small one.
For example, back home it is normal that we use a knife and a chopping board for chopping and we are standing while doing that. In a traditional Sri Lankan kitchen, they have a huge knife, they sit on the handle, with the edge facing up and chopping everything by pushing or sliding the food against it. Back home, we use tissues to blow our noses. In rural areas in India, it’s normal to use their bare hands. For me it is normal for a man to have just one wife. But when I was in Indonesia, polygamy is commonplace. I asked a few of them where this idea came from. The answer from the Muslim men was that the prophet Muhammad wanted to make peace among a few states, so he married a girl from each of the states and the war was over. (I haven’t read the Koran yet, so I have no idea what it says – I’m just reproducing the explanation by a few Indonesians and Malays I talked to and this sounds like quite a nice idea).
When I started traveling and I saw different ways and behavior than I was used to from home, I thought that that the people were strange. Then I started to search for reasons why people did this and many times I felt that there was more logic behind their ways than behind mine.
It is very useful to approach differences the same way in my country too. Before I judge someone, I try to find out why the person behaves this way. I think that I would not be able to absorb these differences had I been traveling with someone else, as I would be more preoccupied to contemplate this.
Traveling is amazing. Just go and explore. Go off the beaten track, immerse yourself in the cultural differences and do it always with the utmost respect.
And never forget, the best language is a smile. Smile always and it will open the door for you nearly everywhere. Even back home!
BT: Did you have to save up a lot of money for your trip?
Bohunka: It depends on how you view it. I didn`t want to save up for a long time, as I simply wanted to go as soon as possible. So I decided to travel low cost. I usually made it for 400-500 USD per month, scooter rental included. In Southeast Asia it is not so hard to squeeze into a budget like this. One just avoids alcohol and that’s it.
The Malay part of Borneo was pretty expensive for me, so I had to be a bit more creative when trying to keep costs down. For example, a motorbike rental there was at least five times higher than in other countries. So I met a few locals and asked them if they wanted to rent me their bike. They did and I got it for three dollars a day. Or when I was looking for budget accommodation next to a surf spot, I talked to the local surfers and found amazing and cheap local places, which you definitely wouldn’t be able to find on the Internet.
BT: Finally, what do you have planned next?
Bohunka: I haven’t fixed my plans yet. I always try to combine countries with great food and the possibility to surf as well. I am currently deciding between Morocco and Mexico for winter.