This is the first installment of our new series, Maximum Consumption, an unseasoned look at the increasingly overlapping fields of music and culinary arts. So if you're in a band and looking to talk chop, or a chef that moonlights as an acoustic guitar-playing busker, we'd like to talk to you.
An enticing little book landed on my desk last week. It's part cookbook, part music journalism, part rock opus, and hell, part coffee table book. The Recipe Project (subhead "A Delectable Extravaganza of Food and Music) is a concept spearheaded by New York-based gypsy-klezmer act One Ring Zero. The band's co-founders, Michael Hearst and Joshua Camp, created songs using the recipes of well-known chefs (Mario Batali, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Chris Cosentino) as the word-for-word lyrics. The meals themselves served as musical influence; each recipe inspired a different sound.
While the songs are not likely ones you'd listen to say, on a long lonesome drive, they do have a certain childlike glint of glee. It's conceptual. The true genius of this project is its overall cohesiveness. It's an all-in-one package. Follow the recipe, listen to the song, get some interesting background factoids. There's also the starpower -- and that goes for both rockers and chefs.
Celebrated vegan author Isa Chandra Moskowitz, a.k.a one-half of Post Punk Kitchen, offers her recipe for peanut butter brunettes, and to match it One Ring Zero brought in singer Tanya Donelly (of Belly, the Breeders, and Throwing Muses) to add dreamy pop vocals. Donelly also makes another appearance later in the book as the author of a recipe called the ugly muffin.
San Francisco's Cosentino, of Incanto, includes a recipe for brains and eggs and One Ring Zero matched it with a hyper Beastie Boys-esque rap song, as Cosentino suggested. In the preface, the reader learns that Cosentino's brains and eggs recipe was the original impetus for the project, given its lyrical instructions. I, however, am particularly fond of the song matching Mark Kurlansky's recipe for a raw peach. With the whisk-whisk-whisk of an old record scratch kicking off the song, it naturally leads to a sweet vintage Parisian-style ditty, you might as well be wandering the Champs-Élysées munching some ripe fruit.
But it's not all just matchy-match recipes with songs, The Recipe Project also includes full recipe playlists, articles rock journalists, and some pretty interesting interviews with chefs, along with "A Wine Lover's Guide to Mexican Music." Those in-between articles start off with headlines such as "Raspberries, Moussaka, and Metallica" in which we learn that chef Michael Symon is "America's MVP of pork" -- and that Stevie Ray Vaughan is the musical equivalent.
It's a cookbook that's worth a spin. The Recipe Project is out Oct. 15, 2011 on Black Balloon Publishing.