08/29/2015 02:48 EDT | Updated 08/29/2015 02:59 EDT

Canadagram: Meet Spicespoon


This week we take you to the kitchen and the dining table and go inside the delicious world of @spicespoon, a Toronto food writer and photographer. We promise your mouth will water. Here she is in her own words:

As the novelist Nadeem Aslam once said, “I was made in Pakistan, but assembled abroad.” My name is Shayma Saadat and I am a culinary arts creative. I am also a writer and you can find my food stories on my blog – The Spice Spoon – as well as in international publications like BBC Good Food Magazine and The New York Times.

As the daughter of a World Bank expatriate, I have led a nomadic life, growing up all over the world. I was born in Lahore, Pakistan to a Pakistani-Afghan father with Iranian lineage and a Pakistani mother. I grew up in Pakistan, the U.S., Nigeria, Kenya, Bangladesh, the U.K. and later moved to Rome, Italy to work for the United Nations. I now live with my husband and son in Toronto, Canada. My photos, writing and cookery style are a reflection of my peripatetic life and international heritage.

A photo posted by CanadaGram Project (@canadagram) on

What inspires you to take photos?

The stories behind the photos. I believe that food allows us to tell stories; stories which are related to traditions, cultures and people. To me, food is so much more than that dish on the table – it is about the customs associated with it and the family ties that go with it.

What’s your favourite Instagram tip?

There is beauty in simplicity. Use clean, crisp backgrounds; take overhead shots; shoot in natural light; and download the VSCO app to give your photos that beautiful glow.

How did you get started in photography or on Instagram?

I started to dabble in food photography when I created my blog, The Spice Spoon, back in 2009. During periods when I was not able to devote as much time to my blog, The Spice Spoon, Instagram provided me with the flexibility to micro-blog and share photos of recipes and snippets of my daily life with my readers. I also work full-time as an economist, so sometimes when it becomes difficult to take out the dSLR and write a blog post, I can pick up my iPhone and take a photo of a cake I prepared and share it with my readers.

Throwback Thursday! Pick a photo you love from your archive. Tell us about it.

I like to present my traditional dishes — Pakistani, Afghan or Persian — in a simple, modern, unadorned style, rather than leaning heavily on the ornate golden designs or paisley motifs of the exotic. I favour sleek and minimalist photography where the food itself provides all the richness and colour. — @spicespoon

Follow Friday. Who inspires you to take better photos? Tell us about them.

I am constantly inspired by my friend Leela Cyd Ross @leelacyd, who is a creative, too. Her style is whimsical and genuine; I look up to her immensely. I love the perfect-imperfection of her food styling. For me, that is what Instagram is for - for sharing photos you take with your smartphone, rather than uploading dSLR photos which are too perfect. I also admire the food styling of @m.pontikis and @mummyicancook and the stories of @naomigingerich.

Photo by @leelacyd

Do you have something else you’d like us to mention to our followers?

My country of birth, Pakistan, has become synonymous with suicide bombings, poverty and oppression. This may be the case, to an extent. But it is only one part of the story of a people, race and culture. Everyone has their own story to tell. and through Instagram, I try to tell mine. I would like to think that through the snippets of my life which you see on Instagram, I am able to provide readers with a much needed antidote of humanity and romanticism about my people and culture.

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