Food and Music

First of all, the News-Miner, our local paper, asked me to write a monthly food column, and I was more than happy to oblige. My first one is out today, a short little piece on Salmon Cheesecake. Second of all, I want playlists. Dinner party playlists to be exact. I bumped into the Dinner Party Playlist website while looking around for ideas, and I have to say, their play list, recipe, and beverage suggestion for Grilled Chicken with Root Beer Barbeque Sauce is spot on. But they have slim pickings for what I currently have on hand. I have a pork roast in the fridge (what else is new?) and it’s fairly large, which means I will probably have friends over to share the bounty. So I find myself in a common predicament: What should I make? And more importantly, what music should I play?

Music can set the stage for the appearance of a certain kind of food, basically dressing the set so that when the star of the meal shows up, it appears to be exactly what you wanted. When you sit down to chimichangas and margaritas, Don McClean’s “Miss American Pie” might ruin the mood. Music can shape our response to the environment around us, changing the way we feel about where we are. Marshall McLuhan, in The Gutenberg Galaxy, says that “song is the slowing down of speech in order to savor nuance,” and this is what we do when we sit down to eat a good meal—we savor the nuances of what would otherwise be a simple utilitarian task.   No doubt, there is something in us that slows down, lights up, and turns on when music plays. The British composer Richard Baker once remarked that song (like good food) owes its existence “to a human impulse which lies much deeper than conscious intention:  the need for rhythm in life… the need is a deep one, transcending thought, and disregarded at our peril.”  The need for aesthetic experience, whether culinary, musical, or poetic, surely makes us human, makes us more than self-replicating machines.

So, I want to create a fun, pork-filled, snow-thawing, grilled meat and beery evening. What should I make and who’s on the radio? My first thoughts are: a hot pepper jelly-glazed pork roast, honey-mustard roasted red potatoes, and broccoli slaw for the food, a hopeful summer ale (if I can find one) and well, frankly, I’m stumped on the play list. Help me out, readers. What do you suggest?

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5 thoughts on “Food and Music

  • Nicole

    I made a Cuban Pork Roast last week for David’s Birthday. It is marinated in three types of citrus juice. I served it with Black Bean Sofrito, Pupusas, and a cabbage slaw (Curtido). It was amazing. The recipes are all in the same cookbook, I’d be happy to lend it to you. Really, nothing screams summer more than a fresh mojito (Good Luck finding good mint in Fairbanks right now). I don’t know much about Cuban music, but I’m sure it would be easy to find a good playlist.

  • duende

    If it’s pork, I say southern or Spanish music–maybe salsa? re the Salmon “cheesecake,” it resembles some of the very original quiches I’ve had at Tarte Julie’s in Les Halles, Paris. Miam miam! Send some on down!