People have a lot of opinions about the kind of music they like to listen to when they cook. Sometimes it’s none at all, of course, as was the case with a very serious-minded French chef I once interviewed who demanded total silence in his kitchen. That approach seemed a little stuffy to me, especially when I compared it to that of the Swedish pastry team, guys who spend their time performing the most minute tasks like dipping individual leaves of mint into simple syrup and hanging them up on a makeshift clothesline; now, those dudes liked to listen to super loud, super throbbing techno music while they worked. “Music and food go together like blues and barbecue,” my friend the great food writer Colman Andrews once put it, and I think he’s right… These days in the kitchen, my iPod is as important to me as any cooking instrument. Rather than find music distracting while I cook, certain songs seem to compliment the mood that I’m in and even inspire me to get more creative, to have more fun, and not to see the act of making dinner as an arduous task. I take my food-and-cooking philosophy very seriously because the music I listen to affects my cooking rhythm, from the way I put flavors together to the speed at which I chop garlic.
I have certain songs that I like to listen to for certain tasks: Etta James (especially the song “Stop the Wedding,” which kills me every time) for baking but especially pie crusts; Journey’s “Escape” album (yeah, so what) for long-project savory things like lasagna or stew; anything Gwen Stefani for dinner on a busy weeknight….
I’m always looking for new kitchen tunes to get me going in there. So, tell me: What’s on your cooking playlist?