More Case Building about Music and Food

More Case Building about Music and Food

Since last week’s hypothesis about a possible correlation between people’s tastes for food and music, I’ve traveled to San Francisco and back. But throughout my travels, I kept finding further fuel for my theories. Before you start thinking I’ve really gone off the deep end this time and have turned into some sort of crank synaesthesiologist, read me out.

Reading Frank Bruni’s hysterical New York Times rant about chefs during my flight out immediately reminded me of similar diatribes about conductors. But his description of diners unwilling to endure fixed-menu multi-course meals also brought to mind people who can’t bear multi-movement works and folks who prefer shuffling individual songs on their iPods to experiencing full carefully-crafted albums.

Then came the awful airplane meal—everyone had only one choice: a soggy cheeseburger. An odd choice for 2007 where one assumes a greater sensitivity to vegetarians, folks keeping Kosher, or people concerned with eating too much red meat or carbs. But then again, the music selections offered on flights also reflect a bizarre insensitivity to the plethora of passenger’s tastes. On the airline’s entertainment channels there still is the last vestige of the former mainstream—from top 40 pop to greatest hits classical (all the dead European guys)—so why not dish out cheeseburgers!

Once in the Bay Area I maintained my de rigeur regiment of concert going, book and record shopping, meals and drinks, meetings, and walking all over. As usual, I sought out weird food and drink items I’d never before experienced with the same gusto I muster when seeking out new music. Some epicurean highlights: garlic-infused white wine from the legendary Stinking Rose; the hottest guacamole I’ve ever eaten from the Tacqueria Cancun; and red sake (made from red rice) at a fabulous sushi restaurant called Tsunami (hopefully named before December 2004). The amazing culinary possibilities of this part of the world are matched by their adventurous musical offerings. It seems that every place that has a vibrant culinary culture also has a happening music scene.

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4 thoughts on “More Case Building about Music and Food

  1. JKG

    Yes, happening music scenes are always on the menu in big cities. Fortunately for most serious listeners (and I don’t mean academics), there is a plethora of eclectic world/tonal music to choose from, so even while they dine on gourmet, they still love those dead European guys. When Zappa went to visit Boulez the first time, Pierre ate some monstrous entrail-looking thing much to Frank’s surprise. You might be on to something – who cares what it tastes like as long as it’s expensive, right?

  2. elandau

    Adventurous Taste
    Frank, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. I fully expect those with no fear of unfamiliar music to be willing to try new foods, and vice versa. That’s why I’m so glad that my almost-7-year-old is a curious eater – “Sure, I’ll try it!” But I’m not sure we can blame the fearful for their small world view. Some people just aren’t equipped emotionally to take what comes when they leap into the unknown.

  3. jbunch

    “A solitude ten thousand fathoms deep
    Sustains the bed on which we lie, my dear:
    Although I love you, you will have to leap;
    Our dream of safety has to disappear.”

  4. sgordon

    When Zappa went to visit Boulez the first time, Pierre ate some monstrous entrail-looking thing much to Frank’s surprise. You might be on to something – who cares what it tastes like as long as it’s expensive, right?

    More than likely the entrail-looking thing was rather cheap. Offal, brains, etc, are fairly common in European cooking, where there’s more of a “use every part of the animal” culture than over here, where we’ve lost our taste for variety. Boulez likely grew up on tripe and boudin noir. “Fancified” offal is a much more recent trend – when Frank met Pierre that would not have been an expensive dish. No one had said the phrase “haute barnyard” yet.

    Besides, what did Frank Zappa know from food? He was rather open, even joked about having a decidedly un-adventurous palate. Didn’t he claim to mostly survive on coffee, cigs, and deep-fried spaghetti? For all Zappa knew PB was eating squid in garlic sauce from the local Chinese takeout.


    Not sure anyone actually fears new music. At least, not in the “it might make me throw up” way that someone might fear a plate of steaming octopus guts or cricket risotto or something.


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