Q&A: Matt Goulding of Eat This, Not That

with Billy Warden and Greg Behr

As co-author of the hugely popular Eat This, Not That book
series, Matt Goulding, 31, is well-equipped to offer some “do this, not that” advice on making the most of the capital city’s dynamic food scene. Now running an online travel magazine called Roads & Kingdoms (www.roadsandkingdoms.com), Goulding’s local journey includes cooking at Raleigh’s 42nd Street Oyster Bar (where, as a teenager, he penned his first, still unpublished cookbook) as well as enduring the cafeteria cuisine at Cary High.

You’re currently traveling all over the world working on your blog series Roads & Kingdoms. How do people react when you tell them about your Raleigh roots?

The closer I find myself to home, people are starting to pick up on Raleigh. The word “cool” and “Raleigh” are actually being connected with some level of consistency, which I think is pretty damn promising.

As the co-writer of the New York Times bestselling series, Eat This, Not That, you must be pretty discerning. What do you suggest people in Raleigh eat or not eat?

Eat your own food as often as possible. In Raleigh, it’s exciting to do that now because you’re seeing more local meats and cheeses, and a renewed pride in local produce. There are more farmers markets. I started writing recipes here five years ago and found it much more difficult then to make cool exciting food, and now it’s a total feast.

What do you think of Raleigh’s food trucks and mobile farmers markets?

Some of the greatest, healthiest cuisine in the world comes from the street. The formula is pretty simple: meat, vegetables, condiments. I promise you that the food coming off of the trucks in Raleigh is fresher and more honest than the food coming through the drive-through window or off of a buffet steam table.

What’s your favorite restaurant in Raleigh?

I like what Ashley Christensen does at Poole’s because she proves that Southern food doesn’t have to be put in a box. She respects the deep roots of the cuisine, but plays with it, lightens it, makes it more exciting. It’s a strong reminder of why the South is the most exciting place in the country to eat right now.

What Raleigh delicacy have you taken overseas and shared?

I’ve done North Carolina-style smoked pork shoulders a few times in Barcelona. There’s a bit of confusion at first. Spaniards only think of pork as something you cure in salt. To watch them dive into this food that’s so near and dear to them but prepared an entirely different way is exciting.

Raleigh has had a rocky relationship with public art.  Based on your world travels, can you recommend an approach to make everyone happy?

If it made everybody happy, it wouldn’t be art. The most successful piece of public art I’ve seen is in Chicago, (Anish Kapoor’s) big ol’ reflective bean. Everybody sees in it exactly what they want: themselves.

What’s up or where to next for you?

The lion’s share of my focus is on Roads & Kingdoms. I’m touring Sicily, where I’ll be diving into the underbelly of the Mafia world and the culinary splendors of Southern Italy. Libya, after that, to throw a hair of danger into the mix. We’re trying to create a pretty eclectic stew.