Food for Our Ears

Food and music is one of those life combinations that can truly change how you experience both mediums. Lyrics and rhythm of music combine with the smells and tastes of cooking to create a moment rather than just a meal or a song. Film makes a considerable impact on the way people see food, and music inspires and drives culinary artists just like food inspires artists to create their art. 

There’s no other artist I would want to start my food rant on than MF DOOM. DOOM’s lyrical insanity is one aspect of his art that I find so enjoyable. It’s those lyrics, and then there’s his production quality that drives my respect for MF DOOM even higher. “Mm.. Food” is fifteen tracks of foodie bliss. Yes, even the fifty second long, “Gumbo”, is masterful. DOOM combines food references, personal allegory, and humor. Just look at the lyrics to “One Beer”:

“He went to go laugh and get some head by the side road

She asked him autograph her derriere, it read

“To Wide Load, this yard bird taste like fried toad turd

Love, Villain””

He’s talking about himself, uses humor, and weaves food puns throughout the entire song. It’s truly incredible to me how much DOOM shows his love for food with his genius of production and lyrical mastery. This article isn’t only about MF DOOM, but he serves as one of my favorite examples of food and music combining to make something special. 

Representation of food in film has been and probably always will be a leading influence on what culinary artists create. Look at the difference between the ramen scene from “Tampopo” and the timpano scene from “Big Night” (warning: there are a few curse words). 

ramen scene, timpano scene

Both scenes showcase the beauty of food, but in “Tampopo” the music is sweet and used as more of a background to the ramen master’s lecture on how to enjoy ramen. In “Big Night” the music brings up the tempo of the scene to help make the tension extreme and more palpable. Both scenes are extremely popular for how they represent food, and they both inspired me to create more dishes from Japan and Italy because of how they are portrayed. 

Have you ever been cooking aggressively, headbanging, and listening to Gulch? Is that just me? When I work on dinner or other dishes that involve lots of effort in a short amount of time, I instantly flip on anything that makes my blood jump and hair curl. Sauteing onions and green beans while songs like “Self-Inflicted Mental Terror”, “Thong Song”, and “Ghost” pop up while tossing french fries in a tablespoon of oil and you immediately start thrashing and whipping the fries around a large bowl to make sure they are all well coated. This is what music does to cooking. It makes it fun. It makes it lively. Music adds more flavor to cooking than a teaspoon of salt. 

Maybe you don’t cook. Even if you get takeout or find yourself eating at a restaurant, there needs to be a good ambiance and delightful music. It feels like a waste of food if not enjoyed with musical accompaniment (at least to me, if you enjoy silence with your meals then please go on doing so). I find myself listening to calmer music while eating compared to the boisterous blastings while cooking. I find myself putting on Adrianne Lenker or Silver Jews for most of my meals. They both set a calm tone with their vocals and smooth instrumentals, which allows for a calm embrace of a nice fresh meal and some relaxing music.

I hope some of these words are able to inspire you to cook more or even listen to “foodie music”! Cooking is an important part of keeping myself mentally healthy, so I thought it might bring some light into your kitchen too (or some crazy flavor combinations).