Matt Preston's World of Flavour: Our Exclusive Interview
In Matt Preston’s World of Flavour, beloved Australian food journalist, radio presenter and international TV personality Matt Preston gives us a surprising history lesson on Australia’s most-searched-for dishes, busting the myths in their origin stories to set the culinary record straight. If you think spaghetti bolognese comes from Italy, pavlova was dreamt up in New Zealand or that tuna mornay travelled from the United States. . . you’d be wrong. All three popped up in Australia first. We were privileged to receive a copy of Matt Preston's latest book, and we're highly impressed with the fascinating stories and myth-busting around famous foods, the quality and approachability of the recipes, the overall depth and detail of the book, and the sheer entertainment and playfulness factor that makes this book an ideal gift as we approach Christmas. Not to mention the great value of World of Flavour. This isn't one of those cookbooks you might "shelve away for show", but World of Flavour is a book you are likely to dip into for the family-friendly recipes (generally serve 4) and fascinating read. It's a point of difference in a sea of cookbooks.
Encountering stories lost from the history books and enough foodie facts to make you a trivia master (What were the New York City lemon meringue pie poisonings of 1878? Are there more fried chicken restaurants in Korea than there are Maccas in the world?), we travel around the world and back in time with Preston as he shares delicious recipes that you’ll cook for years to come.
If there’s one thing Preston is known for it’s his appreciation of flavour, so he never strays from his underlying promise of utterly delicious food. These are over 100 tasty, achievable recipes that Australians love to eat, the Matt Preston way.
We were privileged to interview Matt Preston on the launch of his new book -
Hi Matt, what inspired you to write the book?
I’ve always had a fascination about the origins of great dishes. It can teach us so much about who we are, where we’ve come from and the rich breadth of influences at play in all great cuisine.
Is Australia’s culinary history a compilation of the great cuisines of the world?
Naturally we have cherry picked great dishes from those cultures that have moved here and made them our own. But as important are dishes that Australia had a role in shaping, like spaghetti bolognese, tuna mornay, pavlova, and steak diane, as are those inspirations of our first nations people. I’d argue that grilled mussels are one of the world’s earliest recipes - and that originated here with First Nation people at least 9,000 years ago but probably far earlier. (That's hard to prove as rising sea levels submerged the ancient middens that could prove this).
Is there a uniqueness about this book compared to many cookbooks in terms of the stories behind the food?
You are quite right. There are over 50 cookbooks released for this Christmas and none offer any thing like these stories or the lengthy research that went into finding them.
Having said that, people tell me they like cooking from my cookbooks because the recipes are easy and deliver in terms of taste. As always this was my number one priority with this book - give you recipes that I hope will become staples in your home. The stories are a little bonus!!!
To what extent have migrants added to the richness of Australia’s culinary history and have we seen some of their dishes now embedded as the most popular at our kitchen tables?
Each wave of migration gifts the cuisine of this country with techniques, ideas and dishes. These feature prominently in the food we cook each week in Australia - for example beef faijitas, butter chicken, beef stroganoff, carbonara, massaman, chow mein souvlaki, tiramisu, and trifle. These ideas and cooks all help what we see as Australian food - especially when paired with ingredients that give a local resonance.
Are these easily accessible recipes for the home cook?
Very, very easy - no dang fancy ingredients or equipment needed.
My job is to wring tastiness from the everyday, and the familiar.