I am on a real foodie kick at the moment! I just – belatedly – finished the last few pages of Gabrielle Hamilton’s Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef (which was very good, my tardiness wasn’t a reflection of the book’s quality at all), and have spent many happy hours leafing through the The Flavour Thesaurus for cooking inspiration. And now Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain.
I’ve been hearing for years that Anthony Bourdain is a bit of a badass, and then a copy of Kitchen Confidential showed up in my Christmas stocking. Funnily enough the parts I’m enjoying thus far, are those moments from a softer time:
My brother and I were reasonably happy here. The beaches were warm, there were lizards to hunt down and exterminate with readily available pétards, firecrackers, which one could buy legally (!) over-the-counter. There was a forest within walking distance where an actual hermit lived, and my brother and I spent hours there, spying on him from the underbrush. By now I could read comic books in French and, of course, I was eating – really eating. Murky brown soupe de poisson, tomato salad, moules marinières, poulet basquaise (we were only a few miles from the Basque country). We made day trips to Cap Ferret, a wild, deserted and breathtakingly magnificent Atlantic beach with big rolling waves, taking along baguettes and saucissons and wheels of cheese, wine and Evian (bottled water was at that time unheard of back home).
A few miles west was Lac Cazeaux, a fresh-water lake where my brother and I could rent pédalo watercraft. We ate gaufres, delicious hot waffles, covered in whipped cream and powdered sugar. The two hot songs of that summer on the Cazeaux jukebox were Whiter Shade Of Pale by Procol Harum and These Boots Were Made For Walkin’ by Nancy Sinatra. The French played those two songs over and over again, the music punctuated by the sonic booms from French air force jets that would swoop over the lake on their way to a nearby bombing range.
There’s something about food & music isn’t there? The two seem inexplicably linked. Laura Vincent of Hungry & Frozen always lovingly lists her current sounds, and Turntable Kitchen matches recipes with records. How does Tame Impala with creamy couscous sound? I think they’ll even post you out a pack of ingredients with a song to match.
Music while dining matters too. I read an interesting article on the sometimes inspired, sometimes insipid music choices of restaurants and pubs and how they shape the experience.
Likewise, last night’s Mexican feast at Thor and Liv’s place probably would have had an entirely different atmosphere if we weren’t stuffing our faces to the sweet tunes of Mariachi El Bronx. (By the way, thinly sliced green apple, dressed with fresh lime and Swedish black salt is incredible. Think of that if you listen to the Mariachi song.)
What do you like to listen to when you’re eating, cooking, or dreaming of food?