In Their Bellies and in Their Hearts
Cookbook explores the cupboards and kitchens of your favorite bands
Maybe you, like me, are one of those people who imagines reverse personifications. For example, if that lady were a vegetable, she would totally be an eggplant. Perhaps you look at friends and see colors (Bob's just blue, you know?), animals (I'm an osprey) or brands of cola (Sally is so Mr. Pibb).
That kind of thinking is the only way to fathom I Like Food, Food Tastes Good, a book of recipes from your favorite bands. Food as bands. Bands as food. The ever-pragmatic NOFX offers twists on mac ’n’ cheese and ramen. Odd, nutritious and Americanized Shonen Knife volunteers a lovely green tea cookie recipe. Chris Mills exposes a surprisingly simple side with the bologna, mustard and pickle sandwich.
There, right there, lies the flaw in the decent idea that fueled the assembly of I Like Food. Does anyone really need a recipe for this kind of sandwich? Even if it does come from the pen or mouth of the man behind The Wall to Wall Sessions?
Reminds me of the Spring Crawl questions we just sent to 9,462 billion local bands. The goal was to represent sound and style with funny fill-in-the-blanks for things like mascot, pre-game locker room ritual, etc. Author Kara Zuaro, intentionally or not, sought out menu representations of musicians. What's in your larder is what's in your soul, after all. Taste is taste is musical taste.
When the recipe is something unique, specialized and tasty (They Might Be Giants makes a smart Countrypolitan that will get you humorously drunk), it all comes together. But when the menu is dull or average to a cutesy fault, the cookbook becomes less functional as a cookbook. As a creative window into your favorite band's core motivation, favorite food is probably not a terrible interview question, or a bad metaphor, come to think of it. I wonder if Danzig knows anything about blood pudding?
There are only a few such useless/poetic moments. The rest span a range of practicality and frugality to exotic and extravagant. Enon brews a soup in 20 minutes "for the one who is getting some kind of cold" that includes seaweed, miso and a heavy dose of ginger. The Violent Femmes stews up a hearty wild boar ragu using two pounds of boneless boar meat and grated pecorino cheese. Belle and Sebastian makes a mean HRT—halloumi, radicchio and cherry tomato sandwich. Dr. Dog and Pegasuses-XL betray shrouded family cooking traditions with mom's muffin bread, a cornbread-based morning treat, and the “secret Tobias family potato pancake recipe."
Introductions to the recipes are made up of Zuaro's musings on the band, its sound, her relationship with it or how she met the members one time and a quote from the imparter of the recipe. Some are beautiful and informative. Others, less so. They're most effective when making that chow-music correlation happen.
Vegetarians rejoice, because the sheer number of novel meatless options are worth the door charge. Scattered throughout all sections (and in an entire vegetarian chapter), the recipes read like the kind of thing you come up with when you've got only a package of tofu and some barbecue sauce in your soul-pantry. But, as luck would have it, it's enough. Your necessity breeds innovation, and viola! You introduce the world to baked barbecue tofu, à la Heston Riffle. And really, what a perfect parable for rock.
Franz Ferdinand's Lemon Ginger Flapjacks
In Scotland, "flapjack" means granola bar-like snacks for teatime.
Fresh ginger root, peeled (2 inches is usually enough)
2 parts butter (about half a cup, or one stick)
1 part sugar (about 1/4 cup)
1 part honey (about 1/4 cup)
Steel-cut oats (about 1 cup)
1) Preheat oven to 350°F.2) Grate all of the lemon rind and ginger.3) Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat, then add the sugar and honey. Keep heating until the sugar has dissolved, then pour it into a mixing bowl.4) Mix in the grated zest, ginger and some oats, then stir. Keep adding oats until all the liquid has been absorbed. Enough oats should be added so that they are moist enough to stay bound together, but not too sloppy. 5) Spread the mix over a buttered baking tray. Bake for around 30 minutes. You can experiment with different temperatures and timings—it's one of those simple recipes you can have a lot of fun fiddling with.
Belle and Sebastian's HRT
Halloumi, radicchio and tomato sandwich
Whole wheat bread, toasted
Cherry tomatoes, chopped
Mayonnaise, to taste
1) Basically, all you do is chop the Halloumi cheese into slices about half a centimeter thick and fry the slices in a frying pan, with no oil, on both sides, until they are nice and brown.2.) Then stick a couple of slices between some nice wholemeal bread, along with the radicchio (or any kind of lettuce would do just fine) and some chopped tomato (cherry is best).3) Slap on a bit of mayo and—hey, presto!—a great veggie alternative to a BLT. It's particularly good if you toast the bread first.
They Might Be Giants' Countrypolitan
"Developed deep in the Catskill Mountains of New York State by city folk for city folk; this is a variation on the Cosmopolitan, the cocktail of highly effective drinkers. Real cranberry juice can be found at your local health food store. While it is far more acidic, the sweetness of the pomegranate juice will equalize things, while providing another dimension in flavor." —John Flansburgh
2 parts vodka (not infused)
1 part Cointreau
1 part real cranberry juice (not cranberry juice cocktail)
1 part pomegranate juice
A liberal amount of fresh lime juice
1) Combine all the ingredients in a Martini shaker, shake with ice and strain into a Martini or Champagne cocktail glass.
Shonen Knife's Green Tea Cookies
Makes about two dozen tablespoon-sized cookies.
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 1/2 tablespoons sugar, sifted
1 cup cake flour, sifted
1/2 cup crushed walnuts
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 teaspoons powdered green tea (also called macha)
1/2 cup sanding sugar (optional)
1) Preheat oven to 350° F.2) Mix unsalted butter and sugar.3) Put in all the other ingredients and mix.4) Knead it by hand.5) Wrap it in cellophane and put it in a refrigerator. 6) Wait one hour (maybe playing video games)7) Roll out dough and mold or cut it into your favorite shapes (and sprinkle the cookies with sanding sugar or roll them in the sugar, if you like. They're not as sweet as most American cookies otherwise).8) Bake them 10 minutes.