File this under ideas I kick myself for not thinking of: The rock 'n' roll cookbook. Music and food writer Kara Zuaro beat me to the punch when she spent years tracking down bands and shaking them down for their culinary skills. The result is the fantastic and absolutely fun I Like Food, Food Tastes Good, quite probably the only cookbook ever to take its name from a Descendents song. Zuaro took some time away from the kitchen to answer our questions.
MERCURY: Can you explain how you came up with the concept for I Like Food, Food Tastes Good?
KARA ZUARO: Well, the first band I ever interviewed back in college was Aloha, who were playing this little coffee shop in South Bend, Indiana and complaining about how hungry they were. I never thought about it before that, but being on tour and eating fast food all the time must really stink. So, after college, I started dating a guy who was running a record label, and whenever he had bands passing through New York, I'd surprise them with a big brunch or a pre-show dinner. I started exchanging recipes with those bands, and then whenever I would interview a band, I'd ask them for recipes, too. It turns out that talking about food is a great ice-breaker, and when I started getting some really interesting recipes—like Death Cab for Cutie's veggie sausage and peanut butter sandwich (which is really very tasty—no joke)—I started to think about putting together a cookbook.
How is Portland represented in the book?
I have a recipe from M. Ward's wife, Keri, for Vegan Greek Sandwiches, and Nate from the Decemberists shared a great recipe for pork loin with poblano chiles—plus a margarita recipe to go with it. Plus, Kevin and Anita from Viva Voce shared a pair of recipes for what they call "Hott Boiled Peanuts" and "The Best Guacamole Ever."
Musicians aren't usually known for their kitchen skills, where you surprised by the quality of the recipes you received?
Yes, I was really surprised by how great some of the recipes are, but a lot of the bands with the best recipes work in restaurant kitchens during their breaks from tour. Eric Bachmann, from Crooked Fingers and Archers of Loaf, has worked in kitchens all his life, and his seared tuna with wasabi-coconut sauce is really great.
Have you cooked every recipe in the book? Do you have any favorites? Least favorites?
I've prepared all of them—and there are over 100! I probably won't revisit the ramen recipes, but I'm sure there are some college kids out there who will be excited to enhance their Top Ramen as per suggested by Strung Out and NOFX. I really love the dessert chapter, it's hard to pick between Okkervil River's buttermilk pie and the Drive-By Truckers' banana pudding. Both are really delicious.
You can preorder I Like Food, Food Tastes Good from powells.com