In a world where the causes of division seem to outweigh those that bring us together, there has always been one consistent theme that has united all… a mutual love and appreciation of food. Well that’s not entirely true, we all love food but we don’t love all food, like raisins or liquorice (yuck, who raised you?!). Thankfully, we’ve got someone on hand to tell us what to eat!
Today we are joined by foodie and friend, Victoria Marie, the founder of the amazing Instagram page “There’s Rice At Home”. In her very first interview we’re given an insight into the palette behind the profile as she talks to us about her childhood, favourite dishes and the plate-to-plate journeys that inspired her to start our favourite food page *chef’s kiss*
FYI: There will be a lot of food talk so if you haven’t eaten already, I would HIGHLY recommend that you secure yourself some serious snackage. If you’re short of ideas, you know where to go (click it, it’s good for you). I would also like to point out that this entire interview was conducted whilst talking with food in our mouths because who needs table etiquette?
Please could you introduce yourself
Hey, I’m Victoria! I’m from London and I’m that person that doesn’t allow anyone to touch the food until I get a good photo of it first! I have always loved food and enjoy trying anything new and yummy, and of course, taking a photo of it so I remember what place I went to and what food I ordered. I created my food account “There’s Rice At Home” as a way of organising all of my food pics into one place. I find it quite aesthetically pleasing if I do say so myself! Alongside these food pics, I would include the place and location, what I ordered, price, my review on it and mention if it’s halal, vegan etc., in hopes that it will help someone decide where to spend their money before they commit.
When did the idea for this page come to you and how long before you gained the courage to go for it? It’s really aesthetically pleasing and so well crafted!
When I made my first ever Instagram account, all I did was post photos of food. Back then, no one really cared about their feeds being aesthetically pleasing and posted whatever they wanted at the time. In fact, my first ever Instagram post was a Nando’s meal with a bad Instagram filter. It’s safe to say I’ve come a long way.
On my personal Instagram, I would always take photos and videos of what I’m eating and post these on my story. There would always be people asking me “where is this?”, “what did you order?”, “how much was this”. I had people asking me all kinds of questions, from where they should eat for a particular occasion to what places they should to try out if they have a specific dish in mind.
On my birthday in 2020 (March 2nd if anyone was asking x), I decided to create an Instagram account solely based on food I have eaten throughout the years, as my photo library on my phone was getting quite full of just food pics. I also saw all the food pages I love and followed were mainly based in the US so thought let me try and make a London based one. I wanted it to showcase the food experiences that I’d had here, alongside the ones that I’ve had on my travels. From then, I’ve continued to post photos of food with some helpful information, hoping that it would help someone somewhere make a decision on where they should eat next.
We’ve all heard the phrase “there’s rice at home” thrown back at us when we were younger and wanted to indulge in some fast food. What did “rice at home” look like for you growing up?
Being in a Filipino household, there was always rice at home. Always. Even until now. When I was younger, I would always want to get a McDonald’s Happy Meal or a small pizza after school, but my mum would tell me “there’s rice at home”. From my upbringing, it was important to save money and to not waste food, meaning that rice could be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If when I do eat out and I’m unable to finish my food, even if there’s just one bite left, I will always ask for some takeaway boxes.
What’s the worst thing that you’ve ever tasted and better yet have you ever recommended something to someone to try and got negative feedback?
I don’t know if this counts, but when I went to Bath, I was told to try the famous spring water from the fountain. I guess it’s deemed as famous as it contains many minerals and has been there for two thousand years. I should have known from that description alone to take a step back. The water was warm and tasted so nasty. People may say all water tastes of nothing, but no, this was like warm liquid metal. To my knowledge, I haven’t recommended something to someone for them to say it wasn’t nice, however, if I were to recommend something, I would recommend everyone to try that spring water just so they know what I’m on about!
You rarely ever give bad reviews. Is that because you more or less like everything that you try or because you only try things that you think you’ll like?
Majority of the foods I’ve tried are based off of other people’s recommendations, my own research or even just a random food spot I like the look of. I usually go for things I think I’d like, as eating out is not cheap! It’s quite heartbreaking spending a decent amount of money on food you were excited about, for it to not meet your expectations. This is where I would regret spending my money, as you know, there’s rice at home. I wouldn’t say I’m a picky eater either. I love to try out new dishes and cuisines I’ve never had before. When something new pops up on a menu, I am usually the first one to try it and see if it’s good or not. I will eat literally anything that is put in front of me.
Is there an amount that someone could pay you to give a positive review to a restaurant or meal that you didn’t like?
That wouldn’t be possible. I’m known to be a bad liar amongst my close circle of friends – where my tone of voice or facial expression will just switch up and give it away. If I did take an amount of money to give a positive review, I would fumble the bag for sure, resulting in my integrity going down the drain and my bank account staying the same. So I’ll just keep to being open and honest with my reviews, giving my own opinion based on my own taste buds.
I’m a really big fan of your rating system and the information you provide on dietary preferences (e.g. allergy information and halal approved) – as far as I’ve seen you don’t have any dietary requirements yourself. What made you feel the need to include all of this information for your audience?
Thanks! I don’t think I have any dietary requirements – other than my belly feeling a bit mad when I consume too much dairy. I believe it’s important to include this kind of information whenever I post a food spot, so whoever stumbles across my page can easily find something suited for them based on their personal preferences. Also, having friends that require options that are halal and friends that have allergies, finding a restaurant to tailor to everyone’s needs is quite difficult, as you literally find out everything you need to know when you arrive at the place. This can be really annoying and potentially ruin a meal out with friends.
I especially want to find more places that are halal in London, as I’m aware there are many places that say they are halal but they actually cross-contaminate their products. Also finding a particular cuisine that’s halal, such as Korean or Japanese, is difficult and the ones that exist are often located really far away. Definitely want to find more places that are vegan too!
So yeah, I would like to make my platform as user friendly as possible, that’s the main reason I like to try to include everyone’s potential preferences within my posts. I’m also more than happy to answer DMs if someone requires more information as it helps me improve my page, so please ask away!
How therapeutic has it been to have an outlet during the pandemic and what has been the most therapeutic part of it all? Going out to the restaurants, taking the pictures of the food, engaging with followers or unapologetically eating your troubles away?
This pandemic and the 100 lockdowns that we have been going through has literally made me clear out my camera roll and organise my life really. I’ve uncovered loads of food pics that will eventually all be posted onto There’s Rice At Home. It’s been quite therapeutic to organise my food pics and creating posts on something I enjoy doing – eating. It’s also been quite hard to even get content at the moment, as we can’t just go out and eat whenever and wherever. But when things eventually get back to normal, I am definitely unapologetically eating my troubles away, alongside supporting local businesses!
Everyone has that favourite meal growing up that their parents only ever made on special occasions. What was the meal that you used to get you most excited as child? – feel free to tell the story behind it!
Sinigang. I love sinigang. I still get excited when my mum makes it for me now. Sinigang is this Filipino sour soup dish prepared with tamarind, any type of meat, but I prefer pork or salmon, and a variety of vegetables to your liking. Obviously you eat this with white rice and it’s so yum! I think people who haven’t had this will find it sus how it’s sour, but listen, it’s so good. The sourer the better in my opinion. But from my childhood, I remember having this dish if I were ever feeling unwell, or if it was a really cold day – sinigang would just save the day.
Another love of mine is lumpiang shanghai. This is basically spring rolls with a ground meat filling that you have to have a sweet and sour dip with. When visiting my aunty’s Filipino restaurant/bar, they always knew the deal! They would have a basket of these spring rolls ready for me, and the whole thing would be gone within minutes. At any Filipino event, you will see these spring rolls, and also see me at the buffet table next to these spring rolls too.
Food is life. We’re not here to debate that, but as much as it hurts me to say this, it isn’t all there is to life (I’m still in denial to be honest). What do you like to do when you’re not being our favourite Instagram foodie?
At the moment, I have been bingeing quite a lot of series and movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney + – you name it! The main genres I go for are either comedies, psychological thrillers and murder mysteries, but I more or less watch pretty much anything. The genres I can’t do are romantic and lovey-dovey stuff, and also horror because why do I want to be sweating and jumping for? I do like fashion and enjoy purchasing a sneaker here and there – but 2020 was definitely filled with L’s when it came to raffles, but we don’t talk about it. And no, I am not a hypebeast. I also love anything skincare, where this pandemic has given me a lot of time to get to know my skin and how to look after it. I’m trying to look 25 when I hit 50! I would say the majority of my money goes towards food, skincare or shoes. No regrets. Overall, I’m pretty chill and enjoy my own company, which is probably an only child thing. I enjoy staying at home, being in bed with the comfort of my snacks, WiFi and playing Animal Crossing. But when everything gets back to normal, I will be travelling from country to country like never before!
I know that you spent a lot of time abroad during the first global lockdown for unexpected reasons, how was this experience for you?
Yes! I was stuck in the Philippines for nearly 4 months – AND I LOVED IT. I didn’t want come back to London. I was there from the beginning of March until the end of June. I was lucky enough to go to a few beaches and travel around Cebu City at the beginning before lockdown happened, where I was then stuck in Bantayan Island. At first, I was pissed. Only because the WiFi wasn’t the best and there was 9 of us in a house – first world problems, I know. My cousin and I also felt quite ill for about 10 days, where I literally thought I had COVID, and I still think it was COVID, but everyone was saying it was just a fever. After recovering, everything was great. I had amazing freshly cooked food made every day, and the seafood! So much seafood! I also had fresh mangoes every single day too. I was living the life!
But the most important part of this trip was getting to spend so much time with my family back in the Philippines. As I grew up in London, I haven’t really spent as much time with my mum’s side, as they are all in the Philippines. We would play Just Dance and Mario Kart on my Nintendo Switch, karaoke, and cook different foods for our “snacks”. I also played with our dog Tala most of the time, which definitely kept me active. Having limited access to the internet was really refreshing and allowed me to focus on things that really mattered.
What are your plans going forward with the page? We’d love to see more video content and hear/see your live reaction to the food. We want more!
Well I’m hoping to visit more food spots around London, the U.K. and hopefully around the world – once everything is remotely back to normal of course. I’ll continue to post these pics and my reviews, and hopefully gain more exposure to my page. Would be happy to even visit places people want me to try out before they do. I’ve just started getting into reels on Instagram, which are quite fun to create. I’ve just started this page and I’m enjoying it at the moment. Maybe in the future, I’ll show face more but who knows.
I’m going to ask you the question that we all want to know the answer to… can YOU cook?
I plead the fifth. But seriously, give me a recipe and I will follow it to a T. I specialise more with breakfasts and creating edible creations with my leftovers. I can boil an egg and make pasta, I promise. I wouldn’t say I’m Masterchef material, but I have not had food poisoning due to my cooking. I prefer to bake more than I do to cook. I hate the fact how cooking can take 2 hours and it takes me 10 minutes to eat. It’s all a scam! But one thing I do know how to make is jasmine rice. I use my finger lines as measurements, knowing that technique is literally a requirement for every Filipino.
Would you ever open up your own restaurant or are you happiest being on the other side of menu?
I would love to open up my own place some day. Always wanted to own an ice cream parlour or a café or a food truck! The idea of it seems so cute. During my time in the Philippines, I even spoke about how my mum, aunty and cousins could cook their Filipino desserts at my café some day. Their cooking skills are top tier. Even if this all happens, I know I will still be taking pics and trying out new food spots regardless.
And finally, do your parents still remind you that “there’s rice at home” ?
All. The. Time. Forever.
QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS
1. A dish that you would try if you had the chance and why?
Something with alligator in it. Heard it tastes like chicken and fish, so I’m very intrigued.
2. A dish that you’ve never tried and would like to keep that way and why?
Balut. It’s a common street food in the Philippines. Just Google it. You’ll see why.
3. One food item that you can’t live without?
Between cheese and condiments. Slap cheese on anything and it’s basically a pizza. Add ketchup or hot sauce and it makes things taste better. Also my phone case is of a Heinz ketchup bottle so I don’t know
4. The most inspirational person in your life?
So cliché but my mum. Mum’s are the best.
5. Your favourite book and/or movie?
Book – The Art of Happiness
Movie – Mrs. Doubtfire, School of Rock and the Rush Hour trilogy
6. Your biggest pet peeve?
The sound of saliva. Does that make sense? Like chewing really loudly that I can hear the saliva smacking. Also when people spit on the floor eww.
7. A cause that you’re passionate about?
Mental health and wellbeing in children and young people! Reason why I did psychology at university.
8. Something that’s made you smile recently?
An episode of Bob’s Burgers.