Food and music, a natural marriage…
Food and music have always gone hand in hand around here in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Musicians work in restaurants and cooks go to the clubs to hear bands after work in equal measure. I remember one night years ago when there was a show we all wanted to see. I don’t remember the band now, but as soon as we got done, a bunch of us line cooks went tearing down the street to the Cat’s Cradle. We still had our aprons on even. The club was crowded and loud, but I could hear a woman beside me say to her friend, “It smells like someone is cooking a steak in here!” Actually, as usual, it was the music that was cooking.
The language of the Blues is especially effective in using the metaphors of food and cooking. It’s both honest and funny. It may seem elemental and primitive at first, but to me, it is great poetry. This marvelously curated collection presents this at its best. Some songs are sexy, some are silly. All are clever. A few, like “Shortnin’ Bread” are familiar, but many were unknown to me. I don’t remember having heard either “Chicken Pie” or “Cabbage Man” before. Both were cool discoveries. There are narratives like “Old Bill” and the wonderful “Lima Beans” will delight both the cook and the poet alike.
Listen to this collection as a whole. The songs of course can each stand on their own but together they have a wonderful feel of working people intelligently and unselfconsciously examining their lives with music. It makes sense that that thing as elemental as food and the table would find their way into song. Play this music when you sit down to dinner. It’s as satisfying as a T-bone steak.
- Bill Smith, chef, Crook’s Corner, Chapel Hill, NC