My favourite thing: Cerys Matthews

BBC Radio 6 Music presenter Cerys Matthews expounds on her love of cooking in her Hungarian kotlich

This kotlich is an outdoor version of an ancient way of cooking. There’s a chain, tripod and a heavy cauldron to boil over the fire so you can stir the pot as our ancestors have done for centuries. It reminds me of that Welsh folk song Sosban Fach (‘Little Saucepan’) and all the time I spent visiting the Welsh Folk Museum just outside Cardiff as a child. You can see all the old utensils that people used when cooking on an open fire in their houses.

I absolutely adore cooking outside. I love being by the fire and the smell of wood burning. Even as a child, I was allowed to light the barbecue and tend it. We’re mainly pescatarian in my family and the kotlich allows us to be more adventurous when we’re barbecuing. Grilled halloumi and aubergines can get a bit samey.

It’s made in the same manner that it always has been. It’s built from enamelled iron on a forged tripod. I bought it from a Serbian woman at The Good Life Experience, the festival I run with the Gladstone family near Chester. The kotlich is from Hungary where they still use them today – I’m helping it spread into west London. People always comment on the lovely smells coming from our garden.

The kotlich is a focal point. You can bet your bottom dollar that if you light a fire and start cooking, people will gather. I love my work and gadgets but it’s important to breathe the air, smell the logs burning and appreciate the miracle of life.

We live in London, in an increasingly expensive part. We’re between Ladbroke Grove and Portobello Road so we don’t have much square footage. It would be lovely if we did because we love books, records and guitars. I don’t collect clothes or shoes, or anything like that – I’d rather feed our book and record collection.

Once a music fan, always a music fan. The beauty of my job (I’ve been DJing for Radio 6 Music since 2008) is that the show has picked up a lot of listeners who are record collectors and label owners; so I get sent lots of things. I love the re-releases of records by people like John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. It’s glorious music.

I think life is about experience more than things, but things give you great memories. I have a huge photograph of my great-grandparents in my kitchen. It’s dour and big, which is extraordinary when you look at it in terms of the size of the print for that era. I love the idea there’s still a little bit of generations gone by looking out at the world.

One of my favourite finds is our kitchen table. It was left in the garden when we moved here. It’s solid oak so I sanded it down and oiled it and now we use it for everything, from eating and doing homework to building Lego. I love the idea that somebody’s rubbish is someone else’s treasure. If you love something and make use of it then it becomes beautiful in itself.

The Good Life Experience runs from 16th–18th September on the Hawarden Estate, Flintshire, CH5 3FB. 01244 784122; thegoodlifeexperience.co.uk

Interview: Alice Hancock
Portrait: Grant Scott

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