Welsh singer Cerys Matthews talks to Natural Health magazine about her favourite dishes from around the world, growing up in Wales and how her love of food, books and music all…
In my book, Where Wild Cooks Go, there are 15 different countries or cuisines, and then 15 different playlists on Spotify to accompany you as you’re cooking from each one. All the recipes in the book can be adapted to your diet. For example, there’s a recipe in there for classic Welsh cakes, but because my daughter is vegan, I’ve made it so people can make the version that suits their needs. There’s even a vegan equivalent for cawl as well (a bowl of traditional Welsh soup with lamb and root vegetables).
I’m a keen home-cook, mainly because my mum was quite a rubbish one! I grew up in the 80s and whatever era you’re born into, there will be fashions with food, just like there are trends with clothes. At that time, the fad was mass production. People wanted time-efficient food that was easy to put on the table. That often meant everyone was eating a lot of mass-produced frozen products. Most of us were growing up on chips, meat paste and crispy pancakes – a world away from wholefoods.
There was a little woods behind my house in Swansea when I was growing up – the type with shopping trolleys and bed mattresses – and among some of the clutter there was food that you could pick, such as mushrooms, nettles and wild garlic. I read a book called Wild Food by Roger Phillips, which is all about finding, cooking, and eating wild plants that you’ve picked. That book gave me the tools to see that woods in a completely different way. I think it means even more when you can come to an urban or suburban environment and find something of use. Improvising and being able to make do with what you’ve got around you is so important.
Where Wild Cooks Go is a really good cookbook for people starting out in the kitchen, but it’s great for keen cooks too. There’s nothing quite like dishing up a great Italian dish and listening to Italian music at the same time; it just makes the whole experience. Music, literature and travel – they’re all linked.
My go-to dish is one that feeds loads of people. Dahl is my absolute favourite as it’s one of the cheapest dishes you can make. It’s sustainable and such a delicious food to serve up to a crowd of people. Dahl changes from family to family, but the one I cook and the one that features in my book is such a simple recipe – it’s never failed me. It’s full of protein, it’s healthy for the planet, and it can be on the table in 30 minutes. What’s not to love?
I usually cook thinking, ‘what have I got in the fridge?’ and ‘what cuisine do we fancy?’ I cook every day, so there’s got to be a bit of a variety with what I put on the table! That’s why the book is so much fun to use and a go-to for me to unwind after a long day. In my kitchen, I’m the captain of my own ship. Cooking is my way to destress, so as long as I have my pans bubbling away, some music playing from my Spotify playlist and a glass of wine in my hand, I’m happy!
Where Wild Cooks Go: Recipes, Music, Poetry, Cocktails by Cerys Matthews (Published by Penguin) £17.44, amazon.co.uk
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