Cerys Matthews on food, travel and her new book
As far as I’m concerned, there are great things in this world that make life brilliant: eating, drinking, talking, playing music, singing music, sharing information, fires. All of that.”
Welcome to the life-affirming world of Cerys Matthews, who is charisma, warmth and intelligence personified. BALANCE was lucky enough to spend time in the presenter, singer and author’s company and came away feeling both spellbound and invigorated.
To call Where The Wild Cooks Go a “food book” would be like calling The Beatles’ seminal Rubber Soul album a collection of songs. The description might be technically correct, but there is so much more at play. Cerys’s latest effort is packed with recipes, yet also reads like a travelogue; it’s crammed with facts, trivia and tales as the former Catatonia frontwoman has trotted the globe across a life well-lived, collecting wit and wisdom along the way.
“So many years of work have gone into it, in terms of travelling the world and writing down notes and curiosities of places I’ve visited as a child, and then later as a musician,” says Cerys. “So it’s almost like a love letter to the planet.” This is a time to be enjoyed, savoured and, ultimately, devoured. Indeed, the highest compliment we can pay both Cerys and her publication is that both evoke warm similarities with the great presenter, author and comedian Michael Palin.
“When you travel and meet people, and share things with people, whether that’s poetry, or food or music or whatever, that’s what life is. The best parts of life is those sort of exchanges. It’s more than just a cookbook; it’s got everything,” she adds.
Cerys loves the planet. Her passion for everything about it – food, nature, people, geography – is positively palpable. It’s why she’s so keen to protect it, saying, “A lot of what’s in the book is about the awareness of the stuff that we’ve got, in terms of climate change, food and the environmental impact of where our foods are from. That’s where we need to be heading.”
If that means a return to nature and more traditional ways of preparing food, Cerys is already on board. She explains: “The main part of the book is like a tribute to all those people in kitchens all over the world who are home cooks. Those nuggets of wisdom that have naturally been handed down by the human race, we tend to not value so much. At the moment, there’s more of a respect for these high-end restaurants or chefs that are conversely now turning back to nature, back to foraging and back to the home kitchen. That’s all becoming fashionable again.
“I just like to pay homage to knowledge and people that understand the planet, and the world around them. That really unpretentious home cooking that you find in kitchens across the globe, those are the recipes that attract me.”
Where The Wild Cooks Go is out now (Particular Books, £25)