As the meat sizzles in a pan, a pair of hands chops crunchy-looking colourful peppers with a huge chef’s knife. In the background you hear birds chirping and see the water from a river stream crashing into rocks. Barely a word is spoken. Social media’s latest trend, cooking in the woods, is as relaxing for the ears and eyes, as pleasing it seems to the tastebuds. It’s everything a fan of ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) videos would like.
Coined in 2010, ASMR is a trend where people share videos that trigger a relaxing, often sedative sensation using placid sights and sounds such as whispers, accents, and crackles. The popularity of ASMR videos gave birth to the new trend of people sharing videos of cooking and eating, without any voiceovers.
It was this trend that motivated two food vloggers Sławek Kalkraut and Krzysztof Szymanski to shift from Facebook to TikTok, where their food videos “really took off.”
Originally from the south of Poland, the duo, popularly known by their TikTok handle @menwiththepots share tips on how to create delicious food on a simple budget. Their mouth-watering videos have sent the internet into meltdown. Millions have watched Kalkraut and Szymanski create rustic delights using simple ingredients and an open fire in the forests around Fermanagh, Ireland, where they now live and work.
For many travel bugs under COVID-19 lockdown, this was also a way to travel to these dreamy forests, which otherwise became out of reach due to travel restrictions.
The star of their show, however, is the knife. The knives used in their videos look so good, that even a person like me, who doesn’t cook up fancy feasts too often, is convinced that the lack of these knives is the reason I don’t feel motivated to do so.
The @menwiththepots duo has tackled some of Poland’s more famous delicacies such as pierogi, zapiekanka (a type of French bread pizza), and gołąbki (cabbage wraps) as well as international favourites such as lasagne, curry and calzone. But, their most viral dish is a simple recipe that they call “simply delicious and easy chicken breast”.
In the video, they show their followers how to prepare primavera chicken where they slice chicken breasts and stuff them with vegetables and cheese.
Kalkraut and Szymanski are not the only ones getting famous for cooking in the woods. Here’s a look at some popular and upcoming channels and some of their videos.
1. Almazan Kitchen
If you search the words “food” and “ASMR” on YouTube, the first and probably most of the videos you will see will be by this Serbian chef named Alex Almazan. Some of his videos also feature his Uncle Boki. While the channel does some Serbian inspired dishes, like the Ultimate Serbian Breakfast, the channel’s main type of video is delightfully simple.
Here’s a recipe that features the “ultimate” steak, which is fried on a stone, near a beautiful mountain lake, and served with a refreshing sauce from homegrown organic ingredients. “This is more than just a cooking video, it is a therapy that will bring you a special relaxation and satisfy all your senses at once,” writes Almazan.
2. Traditional Me
Take a trip to a village in Sri Lanka with food vlogger Nadee. In the ‘About’ section of her channel, Nadee writes: “I dedicate a lot of time to my hobby, which is making delicious food for my family. I love to cook local Sri Lankan food and Indian, which is from our neighbouring country, and also Arabic and Malay food because Sri Lanka is a multicultural country.”
Her videos feature her cooking in her backyard or outdoor spaces in Sri Lankan woods. Her younger brother and grandmother are also seen in her videos, enjoying the feast she makes for them.
Watch her plucking fresh juicy ingredients off trees for her video of “a simple homemade lunch was converted into a platter of a feast…”
3. Country Life Vlog
This channel is by an Azerbaijani couple who live in the countryside. They love to engage with Nature and make the most out of village life. Their colourful videos of cooking in Nature are relaxing and a huge hit on YouTube and Instagram.
Here’s a video of a traditional Azerbaijani dish Karabakh style Kata and Buglama with lamb. Buglama is a popular Azerbaijani and Georgian dish consisting of lamb pieces that are stewed with onions, tomatoes, peppers, a variety of spices including black pepper and bay leaves, and a small amount of liquid. The name of the dish means steamed, referring to the fact that the lamb is cooked in its own juices.
4. Forest Cooking Channel – ASMR
This food channel is dedicated to ASMR videos of cooking in a forest in the southern Indian state of Kerala. Here’s a mouth-watering video of spicy fried sardines, best served with rice.
5. Rural Cooking
The channel by Cambodian vlogger named Chenda is a hit among foodies on YouTube and has tens of thousands of views. She writes: “Actually, I am not a professional chef, yet I would like to try to share homemade food with the world and the others to know about my food style and processes, which I discovered and learned since I was a child with my mum, relatives and neighbours.”
While some of her videos are shot in woods, others are of outdoor cooking in the backyard. Here’s Chenda making amok, a traditional Khmer (Cambodian) dish usually made with fish, although chicken and beef amok are also popular. The food is traditionally a bit like a curry stew served in a boat made of banana leaves. It can be served with our without rice.
6. Wild Food & Fire
This father and son duo from Denmark will teach you a thing or two about outdoor cooking. According to their channel: “Food, foraging, fire, relaxing, nature, slow down, bushcraft and peace of mind,” is what their channel is all about.
Here’s a video featuring the recipe for some delicious pesto pasta made with wild herbs.