For some people, food is something that triggers memories. For some, food makes memories. I can remember the tortellini with vodka sauce I had for my 16th birthday at my favorite Italian restaurant. The cheese and freshly baked bread in my granma's kitchen while playing yahtzee. Food brings me back to the stories of my past so frequently.
So does music. For some, even more so. Can you remember where you were the first time you heard what became your favorite band? What was playing when you had your first kiss? Your song for the first dance at your wedding?
Through the magic of the Internet, I ran across a very cool cookbook called I Like Food, Food Tastes Good. It was such a cool and novel idea...and frankly, I was peeved I didn't think of it first. Kara Zuaro managed to fuse two of my favorite things - food and music - into a really cool cookbook called I Like Food, Food Tastes Good: In The Kitchen With Your Favorite Band.
Kara was nice enough to answer a few questions and give some insight into the inspiration behind her book:
The introduction to the cookbook tells the story of how the idea for I Like Food, Food Tastes Good came about. Can you give me a cliff notes version?
I've been interviewing bands for years, and instead of asking them the same questions every rock journalist asks, I often ask them about food. I'm also a food writer, so I'm interested in hearing about their favorite restaurants and recipes. I think you can learn a lot about a person about the food they eat. Anyway, I collected a lot of recipes and I had a lot of stories about cooking with bands that crashed at my apartment when they were touring through New York, and I thought other fans might be interested in this stuff -- so I turned the stories and recipes into a book.
How long did it take you to compile the recipes and how did you decide which bands to include in the cookbook?
I collected recipes for about 5 years! At first, I just figured I'd have little books made at Kinko's and give them to my friends as Christmas gifts, but the more bands that shared recipes, the more I realized that it might make sense as a real book. Once I got a book deal, I had to come up with 100 recipes quickly, so I got the word out to all the bands and publicists I knew, and I emailed all my favorite bands -- and I included everyone who sent me a recipe before my deadline. There might be a few bands in there that you haven't heard of -- but they're all bands that I love, and a lot of them are my friends.
There is a plethora of vegetarian recipes in the book. Was that a
choice made by you to focus on veggie recipes or is that the nature of
the folks in the bands?
You know, if there's one vegetarian in a touring band, the vegetarian is probably the one that pays the most attention to the food they eat -- so the vegetarians were the ones who were most likely to share recipes. If you're on tour and you don't eat meat, you're forced to eat a LOT of bean burritos, and you're probably going to come up with some other options. So, for instance, Death Cab isn't a band of vegetarians -- but they all love the veggie sausage and peanut butter sandwich that Chris Walla created to meet his vegetarian needs.
Which are your favorite recipes and why?
I hate to play favorites, but Patrick Phelan, a songwriter and classically-trained chef, has awesome recipe that he calls Swanky Mac and Cheese, made with Fontina, Gruyere, and lobster -- it's an incredibly decadent dish and I make it every year on Valentine's Day. I'm also a huge Drive-By Truckers fan and their recipe, Sissy's Banana Pudding, is my favorite dessert. It's mounded with meringue and involves homemade vanilla pudding -- so good!
That's not the only recipe in there that is soooooooo good. The first recipe I tried was from Dave Lerner of Ted Leo & The Pharmacists. I hadn't made pasta in a while and the notion of a "raw" pasta sauce appealed to me. I altered the original recipe slightly, substituting chili flakes and red onion for the jalepeno & pumpkin seeds for the pine nuts. WOW. This was the most flavorful & texturally appealing pasta I'd made in a really long time. Don't be scared off by the "raw-ness" of it - this recipe would satisfy any type of foodie.
Semi Raw Everyday Pasta - serves 2 "with a bit left over" - contributed by Dave Lerner of Ted Leo & The Pharmacists and originally found in I Like Food, Food Tastes Good by Kara Zuaro
- a big pinch of sea salt
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus a bit more)
- 1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 jalepeno pepper, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- a bunch of basil or arugula leaves, torn into small pieces by hand. Other bitter greens like dandelion would work, as would cilantro or parsley.
- 1/3 cup nuts. Traditionalists favor pine nuts. Raw purists use almonds, soaked overnight and coarsely chopped. Walnuts are fine, too and have the added benefit of essential fatty acids.
- 1/2 box rigatoni or linguini fina. Any brand will do. I use Barilla.
- more salt and freshly ground pepper
- freshly grated cheese (optional)
- Boil lots of water and don't be stingy when you add your sea salt to it.
- In a large bowl, combine oil, lemon juice, jalapeno, crushed garlic, torn greens, and nuts. Stir aggressively with a wooden spoon until all is well combined.
- Cook pasta, making sure not to overcook.
- Drain pasta. Don't bother with a colander, and don't rinse it, either. Retain a small amount of cooking water, add a bit of oil, and stir. Let it cool in saucepan until it's slightly warmer than room temperature.
- Combine pasta with sauce in your large bowl.
- Add salt, more lemon, and freshly ground pepper, to taste.
- If you choose, add freshly grated cheese. Raw milk cheeses are another gray area for raw foodists. I say if you're going to have cheese, go with a decent domestic Parmesan. It tastes fine, is much easier to come by than its raw counterparts, and quite a bit cheaper.
- Serve with a sturdy, inexpensive red such as Salice Salentino or Mas de Gourgonnier.
By the way, I fully recommend eating raw as often as possible to anyone interested. It forces creativity in cooking and makes you more inclined to sample fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables that you might not have otherwise. Just read up and be smart about it. It's only food, but it can make you feel slightly more energized and clear once you strike the right balance. Enjoy!