By Sofia Perez
[Published by Saveur.com, June 6, 2007]
As I flipped through a recently released cookbook featuring recipe titles like “Cheesy Sleazy” and “Rock ‘n’ Ramen,” I knew that I was a long way from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The dishes documented in I Like Food, Food Tastes Good (Hyperion, 2007) come from an array of indie musicians and were compiled by author Kara Zuaro, who leads a double life as a food writer and a music journalist.
Named after a line in a song by the legendary punk band The Descendents (who, incidentally, provided a recipe for pico de gallo), the book features quirky contributions from rock icons like the Violent Femmes (wild boar ragù) and They Might Be Giants (the countrypolitan, the band’s take on a Cosmo), as well as dishes from rising stars Death Cab for Cutie (veggie sausage and peanut butter sandwich) and Franz Ferdinand (lemon ginger flapjacks). Many of the recipes are fairly basic—you don’t really need instructions to re-create Chris Mills’s bologna, mustard, and pickle sandwich, though his pairing suggestions (“best served with soda, potato chips, and cartoons”) are certainly appreciated—but there are also plenty of tempting dishes to draw you into the kitchen. I could see myself whipping up a batch of Crooked Fingers’ seared tuna with wasabi–coconut sauce and roasted-pepper rice pilaf, or Tommygun’s sweet potato–mango–chicken quesadillas.
Vegetarians will find many options—for example, there are several tofu recipes, including one by the colorfully named ensemble Murder by Death, which offers its decidedly nonlethal spiced tofu stir-fry—but, as you’d expect, not every concoction is designed for clean living. Witness the John Glenn: a potent mixture of Tang and vodka, brought to you by Swearing at Motorists. There is, after all, the nagging need for indie credibility.
Though this tome is not the kind of cookbook that would typically get reviewed by Saveur—our focus is usually on how a culture expresses itself through its food—it’s clear from Zuaro’s funny and thoughtful introductions to each of the recipes (and from the musicians’ own words) that the world of a touring band is truly its own subculture. The book provides an enjoyable look at life on the road and the many ways in which these artists improvise on a daily basis, both on the stage and off.