THE SWINGING 60's inspired so many of our modern success stories. Music and culture certainly would not have been the same without the carefree and magnanimous attitude of the time.

At the tender age of 21, Rick Stein was exposed to this exciting new world and his eyes were opened. He would soon embark on a mission to change the way we think about some of the most exotic food the world has to offer.

It was during his visit to California, and to Mexico, that his culinary journey began and Rick decided to journey back to north America and broaden his appreciation.

"It was an important time for me, because I had never tasted anything like Mexican food when I was that age," Rick explained.

"I always looked on it as my first real experience of exotic and foreign food. I have obviously been to India and south east Asia since then, but that was the first.

"You come across these robust flavours and Mexican cuisine is about so much more than what we know in England.

"People will always remember the first Mexican dish they eat."

A rush of nostalgia came flooding back when he saw the fresh ingredients, the street food and perhaps, most significantly, the vast array of spices we neglected for so long in Blighty.

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"I went to California in '68 during the height of the hippy time," he said. "It seemed like the most adventurous place with great music.

"I wanted to go back to see how it changed and I found that California is still very exciting and the food was excellent."

A seven-part BBC series 'The Road to Mexico' is accompanied by a colourful and robust bible of all of the inspiring dishes and people he met along the way.

It is no new feat for Rick. He is already familiar with sampling hitherto unheard-of dishes and turning them into family favourites.

He added: "We have so much fresh seafood around Great Britain and it was extraordinary that people either didn't know about it or didn't want to eat it.

"We are all much more familiar with the great variety of seafood we have in this country. Monkfish is now considered an expensive and desirable fish but many years ago people didn't want to eat it.

"I like to explain where I first had a particular recipe or an experience. It is not all about how the food tastes. It is part of a larger experience and the location can be just as important to your memory."

The Road to Mexico is available to buy now for £11.99 on Amazon.

It is also available on and some signed copies are now available in store.