ESSAY: Why not pair your most pretentious food and music tastes?

Imagine a pan-seared scallop, with yuzu gel and fried cellophane noodles, and some lemongrass ponzu and chili oil. Got it? OK, now taste it (most likely in your head) while listening to “Everything in its Right Place” by Radiohead.

I’ve been playing this game for a while. To be honest, I’m not sure it’s an ideal pairing. An olive-oil poached salmon, perhaps? Or grilled spot prawns served simply with lime? “Everything in its Right Place” is definitely, at least, a seafood dish. Of that, I am certain.

Last week, a chef in Detroit held a Radiohead-themed pop-up dinner—10 courses paired with the 10 songs from Kid A. I recited the first dish. They only get more decadent. Lamb chops with crispy pig ear and blood-orange reduction for “The National Anthem,” an arugula salad with sous vide egg and various molecular gastronomic components for “Idioteque,” and chocolate mousse with blackberry pâte de fruit for the closing track, “Motion Picture Soundtrack.”

As a hardcore food and music lover—I’ve probably had only slightly more fantasies about scallops than Thom Yorke—I fully support any merging of those two worlds. Think about it: Eating is an all-senses experience. That crunch you hear when you chomp down on celery is satisfying, and similarly, music can enhance tastes. It might be more obvious if you think about awful pairings, like a homey roast chicken with Aphex Twin, or a delicate filet of sole with The Notorious B.I.G.

When I lived in the Bay Area, my heart swelled whenever a guest chef served fancy plates at rock concerts. The Outside Lands music festival pretty much exemplifies that cross-pollination of joy. Indeed, that’s when I discovered, a blog of recipes with musical pairings. And I plumb forgot about that one vegan soul-food cookbook sitting on my shelf, with fixed menus and recommended dinner-party albums.

Given Sacramento’s obsession with pop-ups, I think music-food dinners are the next reasonable innovation. Or you could play this game at home. Here’s my imaginary home-cook menu, paired with artists who recently had gigs in Sacramento:

Chopped kale salad with pecorino and walnuts, paired with “The Feeling of Feeling” by Musical Charis.

Curried carrot soup with ginger and coconut, paired with “Natural Feelings” by Pregnant.

Risotto with leeks and wild mushrooms, paired with “When I’m Small” by Phantogram.

Silky chocolate torte with a dash of sea salt, paired with “Pieces” by the Seshen.

Wine and beer pairings optional.

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