Cooking Vinyl: 10 Inspired Food and Music Pairings


Our daily trawl of the internet has bought at least one excellent piece of news to our attention of late: Steve Albini has a cooking blog — called, no joke, “mariobatalivoice.” It’s been up and running since March, and a read of the archives reveals that Albini knows his Italian food, hosts a regular poker game for his friends, and is, as ever, an angry man: “I cannot abide [bad Italian] restaurants,” he writes at one point. “They debase our palates and insult our ancestors with watery matter piled in mountainous heaps and buried under granulated Kraft Foods ‘Parmesan’. Screw this school lunch bullshit and get it the fuck away from me.” The idea of Steve Albini toiling away over obscure pasta got us thinking about what sort of music would go best with various other types of food. Here’s a round-up of combinations we think would work well… now, get back in the kitchen and put on a big pan of water for the pasta while we play Shellac’s “A Prayer to God” again.

Indian food and Dirty Three

For Christmas, we were given a copy of Pushpesh Pant’s India: The Cookbook, which is without a doubt the most epically awesome Indian cookbook in existence and a shoo-in for Best Present Ever. You could go for the obvious Bollywood soundtrackery to accompany an exploration of its recipes, but we suggest something a little less obvious -– in the same way that a bit of Big Black goes surprisingly well with serious Italian cooking, a bit of atmospheric, violin-led instrumental music makes for a fine accompaniment to slow-cooking your dals and curries. Just make sure you don’t overdo the chili, or you’ll be skipping rapidly to “Everything Is Fucked.”

Cajun food and Dr. John

This one pretty much writes itself. Mr Mack Robbenack is like the human embodiment of every clichéd vision you’ve ever had of New Orleans –- he even sings about gumbo, for Chrissakes. We recommend putting Gris-Gris on the stereo, cooking up an extra-spicy and flavorsome jambalaya, and then settling down for a nice, quiet night exploring esoteric voodoo techniques and animistic rituals. Excellent.

Sushi and Grizzly Bear

One is subtle, light, has occasionally been accused of being bland, but is nevertheless good for you and should be enjoyed no matter what meat-and-potatoes-lovin’ bros have to say. The other is sushi. Ha.

Steak and fries and Kid Rock

Or Ted Nugent. Or Lynrd Skyrnrd. Whichever red-blooded and not even remotely camp alpha-male music icon you choose, you’ll need to make sure your steak is at least 24oz, cooked no more than medium rare, and ideally a cut with a silly name. Extra points if you shot it yourself.

Anything remotely edible and Cypress Hill

Hey, man, can you pass me those, like… what are they, anyway? And is there any more of them?

Sunday roast and Blur

Specifically, early ’90s Leisure – or Modern Life Is Rubbish -era Blur, with its music hall influences and its insular yet ambivalent take on the experience of being English. For maximum authenticity, your Sunday roast should be slightly overcooked, accompanied by stodgy Yorkshire puddings, and consumed with absolutely no conversation at the dinner table. Also works well with the first Suede album, Pulp’s His N Hers , mid-period Pink Floyd (“Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way”), and, curiously, Radiohead.

Burgers and milkshakes and The Raveonettes

It’s one of those strange quirks of globalization that the band who’ve drawn most from classic visions of ’50s USA over the last decade have been an implausibly cool duo from Denmark. Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo’s love for all things ’50s is well-documented and shines through in their music, particularly their early records -– so whack their song on the jukebox and get crackin’ on those burgers, Daddy-o.

Cheap tacos and chillwave

Ideally, purchased from that van at the corner of North 7th and Bedford and washed down with surreptitious cans of Tecate in McCarren Park. For additional cred, return home once the tacos are consumed and put on the first MGMT album while improvising tortilla chips as follows: purchase one of those stacks of corn tortillas from the corner store, making sure to give the gentleman behind the counter an ironic dollar-bill tip. Cut your tortillas into rough triangle shapes. Clean the wok that your roommate’s mother gave him and he never uses. Fry your tortilla chips in a little canola oil. Dude. DUDE.

Fajitas and Calexico

Also on the Mexican tip –- basically, the term “Tex-Mex” conjures up exactly two images in our mind, so why not go ahead and combine them? Although they originally came together in Arizona, Calexico have been evoking the widescreen desertscapes of the Southern frontier with their music for the best part of 15 years, and we honestly can’t think of anything that’d better accompany a spot of Lone Star cuisine and a couple of beers. Also goes well with a John Grady-style hangover breakfast of huevos rancheros. And while we’re on hangovers…

Hungover bacon and eggs and the Benny Hill theme

Honestly, why is it that the one meal that requires coordinating four simultaneous activities is also the one you inevitably crave while you’re hungover? God hates us all.