I associate food with music. This year’s Best of Burque Restaurants issue gives me a heap of inspiration to indulge in that activity. Those lofty sources of nourishment, elucidated on the previous pages of this issue, could be augmented by accompanying sounds, I thought.
As I sat down to a dinner of tacos al pastor and hot sauce mined from the depths of volcanos in heat-bound southern climes, I listened to the cooling accompaniment of King of the Beach by Wavves. I thought about that divine combination—how the right sonic experience can make a meal or even it’s imminent preparation a perceptual joy.
The summation of these episodes may not rival Proust’s famous madeleine, but they’ll do as I reflect on the best in food and listening that have crossed my path—assuaging my hunger and bringing fulfillment to my ears over the years.
First there was Gardunos. Not the locations that remain, but the restaurant’s far-flung outlets in the Northeast Heights. Once filled with fancy fare, they’re merely memories now. But damn, those were halcyon days. My father often took us there. I’d sit rapt as plates of enchiladas, tamales y todo arrived at our table. As my brothers and sisters took up their forks, I waited. Precisely as my salivation levels grew intolerable, the house mariachi band would appear at our table. After my father handed over some silvery feria, he’d point at me. I’d shout out a tune, usually “Jesusita en Chihuahua.” As the violins began their pizzicato run and the trumpeter raised a horn to his lips, I raised a honey-drenched sopaipilla to my mouth. The result was superb, giving rise to an impetus to consume everything sonorous and sweet in my ken.
Approximately 10 revolutions later, I was sitting at the edge of the Amazon jungle, subsisting on the heads of plecostomus fish, manioc roots and rice flown in by Presbyterian missionaries. Of course the radio provided me by the university was inoperable—the batteries were old and rusted. So I wanly endured until the day a plane from the Ecuadorian Air Force came to fly me out. I complained vociferously to the pilot: I hadn’t had a decent dinner or wholesome jam session for over 30 days. He told me he had just the thing. We landed in an oil town called Macas. He led me to a Chinese restaurant with no name where an obscure ensemble of Asian transplants played tunes on lutes, lyres and flutes while diners indulged in Cantonese cuisine. Damn good, I thought to myself as a steaming helping of stewed beef brisket arrived just as the band launched into “Autumn Moon Over Han Palace.”
Nowadays I’m home and down with ghetto Smiths, a supermarket in Albuquerque. Somehow, they’ve replaced the Muzak of foregone times with the alt-rock tuneage of my youth. Imagine wandering the aisles and finding Michael Stipe while breezing through the frozen pizzas instead of García Lorca hiding among the watermelons. Like I said, I’ve been lucky—and seriously sated by a combination of sensual sojourns.