The common language of tasty meals blogger, YouTuber Mark Wiens
Iran, seven in the morning A video shows a large number of customers holding small pots they brought from home so they can buy a small serving of piping hot and creamy sabzi, or Persian herb stew. In the next video there is a rack of Shwarma in Istanbul with dripping fat that sizzles every time it falls on the charcoal. It’s just waiting to be stabbed with a skewer and cut into small, precisely even, bite-sized pieces. In a third case, a grandmother in Ashdod prepares huge vats of spicy Moroccan fish over a flame that she has lit in the entrance of her building. You can find all of these scenes on the YouTube channel of food traveler Mark Wiens. Wiens, who is of Thai and Chinese origins, decided one day to leave his former life behind and travel around the world. He has documented trying various foods in places around the world on his vlog (video blog) which is viewed by his many followers. He loves filming himself filming street food, eating in gourmet restaurants, cafes and ice cream parlors. He looks for places that are interesting and surprisingly different. Vienna’s distinction among bloggers is its refreshing approach to food. He has an unmatched ability to understand the elements of a dish after just one bite, and he manages to brilliantly convey that experience to his viewers. He combines his reactions to the flavors and textures of the food with the surrounding sounds and actions at that moment, and presents everything in such a sweet, polite and lively way that he shows his respect and appreciation for the traditions of the person who is preparing it Has Wiens started out as an amateur YouTube travel channel vlogger and has grown over the years into a leading food blogger with almost seven million subscribers and 1.5 billion views. One of the reasons for Vienna’s incredible communication talent is that he has moved a lot around the globe and has grown up. Vienna’s parents emigrated to the USA before he was born. When he was five years old, his family moved to France and then to the Congo and Kenya. When he was ready to go to college, he decided to return to the United States in Arizona. After graduating, Vienna set out again to continue his explorations around the world, with an emphasis on the local cuisine of each place he visited. He was not interested in preparing food but in tasting it and writing about it. He started his food blog while in Thailand. From that point on, Vienna’s soon began to travel, write, and make videos of kitchens that he would discover. At the beginning of every Vienna video, he explains which city he is in and which foods he will try. Usually he travels to different places within a given country. He likes to focus on the big cities or areas that have special cuisine or dishes. Sometimes you can watch Vienna’s spontaneous approach to a street vendor and try foods he didn’t even know existed. Vienna’s best-known trademarks are its animated and emotional facial expressions and expressive body language, which together illustrate his reaction and enjoyment of the taste of the dish. There is no doubt that this guy is passionate. One of the most interesting things about his approach is that Wiens tracks the kitchen by geographic location, noting how a dish subtly changes from one region to another. He talks about the consistency of ingredients and cooking traditions between nearby towns and discusses the different flavors and colors. For example, he compares Pakistani and Indian cuisine and also discusses the differences between Israeli and Palestinian dishes. The most interesting video I saw was a Vienna from Iran. The Persian dishes we are familiar with here in Israel are really just a tiny niche in the field of Iranian cuisine. In the chapter on his visit to Israel, Wiens interacts with food guide David Califa (The Hungry Tourist). He tried sticky ice cream, delicious meat dishes and many other foods that left Vienna speechless. During his stay in Iran, he worked with Mister Taster to discover authentic Iranian cuisine. Precisely because of the differences between the two countries, I couldn’t overlook the similarities between the episodes he made in Israel and Iran. In both cases, the people he filmed took great pride in their national cuisine and hospitality and did not mention politics. It piqued my curiosity and I saw many episodes of Vienna in exotic locations. Although many of the places he recommended here in Israel are known to foodies, some of them have been welcome surprises. Vienna’s YouTube channel doesn’t have Hebrew subtitles, but watching its videos is a great way for Israelis to improve their understanding of English, especially when it comes to the universal language of food. Translated by Hannah Hochner.