Sunday, August 21, 2005

Composers in the Kitchen

I propose a new taxonomy for composers: those who cook, those who are cooked for, and those who can care less about cooking. The patron saint of composers who care about cooking is, of course, Rossini, who gave up competitive composing at an early age for the pleasures of knife, fork, and spoon. (He did, however, with his exquisite "sins of old age", return to composing, albeit, with amateur status reinstated.)

Some years ago, I took part in a project which involved collecting recipes from composers. We had the intention of intention of publishing a cookbook, but the project ended with the passing of the co-editor, Stefan Schädler. I collected some gems: La Monte Young's non-fat potato salad, Alvin Lucier's Pasta for Tired Dancers, Walter Zimmermann's Karteuserklöschen, Lasagne from Morton Feldman, Mole Poblano de Ajo from Gordon Mumma, and something involving blue corn and juniper berries from Jerry Hunt. (I'm not kidding about any of this and have the recipes to prove it!). However, we learned quickly that many major composers simply did not know their way around the kitchen. A few composers tried to sneak in the work of their partners, Clarence Barlow wrote two extraordinary fake recipes, one for "tortured duck", another presumably created by submitting the contents of a multi-ethnic kitchen cabinet to algorithmic rearrangement, some begged off for lack of time, others submitted obvious plageries. Only one composer admitted to not being a good cook.

I'm not into cats, so will refrain from ritual cat-blogging, but perhaps a composerly recipe or two will find its way into these pages in the future.

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