Celebrating Cultures, Promoting Integration
There is no harder task after a difficult day than having to face cooking a meal for yourself and your loved ones. Life is fast-paced for us all; rarely, we can truly slow down and appreciate the finer details, so when we cook it just so happens that we often have a deadline to try and beat, and unfortunately, we can’t all go at our own pace, appreciating the beautiful intricacy that comes with cooking a meal.
The fact that we’re forced into doing it we forget that we are performing magic every time we cook, that we are creating something from nothing; this rush to get the job done means that we often don’t appreciate the art that is cooking.
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This is because we have come to view cooking as a chore, that we have to drive ourselves on, try and get it over and done with, just reach our end goal of nourishing our bodies, to keep our machines going for one more day. But the daunting task of cooking doesn’t have to be faced alone, in our modern world we will always have one of the great tenets of humanity at our disposal, music.
Where we allow food to nourish our bodies, we give music the more important job of nourishing our souls. Humans are meant to consume music; it has become a central element of who we are, a sum total of our species identity, with the rhythm and beats transcending language and culture, with music even being enjoyed by the deaf community.
By reintroducing the core tenant of human nature back into our meal preparation, we can once again allow ourselves to fall back in love with cooking, no matter what mood we may be in when we first set off on that journey, you just have to work with the music and the rest will fall into place.
When it was my turn to cook in the past, I saw it as a wasted hour of my day. I tried to preoccupy that time with an episode from a Netflix or Amazon show, having to make a choice between a show that I was invested in and the dinner I chose to make, and in the process not truly giving my full attention to one or the other.
As a result, my cooking suffered, and so did my love for the shows I had already invested so much time into enjoying. I thought this would continue forever, being an unfortunate consequence of cooking, till one day when I couldn’t get Netflix working, I decided to just look up a cooking playlist on Google, to fill up the silence, whereby pure chance I would come to introduce myself to the wonderful world of Latin Cubanos music.
I’ve since personally tailored my own cooking playlist, incorporating a lot of Afro-Cuban jazz, with some golden oldies from Frank Sinatra and Billy Ocean, to help balance out the energetic boost provided by the Latin funk. I threw myself headfirst into this world, but I personally think the greatest stepping stone to what is a rather lesser-known genre of music can be found within the Cubano-inspired soundtrack for Jon Favreau’s love letter to cooking Chef (2014).
Listening to my playlist while I cook has become an addiction for me, a rather stable one but an addiction all the same, and unfortunately, it has since meant that a silent kitchen just isn’t one worth cooking in. I can barely boil an egg nowadays without first having to set up my (frankly over the top) Bluetooth speaker, to blare some Roberto Roena.
It makes perfect sense that music and cooking go hand in hand, both are tools of expression, experimentation and tradition, just by different kinds of artists. There’s a beautiful symbiotic relationship at play when you introduce music to your kitchen, I have noticed when I’m chopping vegetables, I often chop to the beat, that the once unbearable waiting times seem to just dissipate, almost as if I’m in the middle of an hour-long montage.
I’ve begun to branch out from my grassroots Cubanos, with its very upbeat energetic pace, so when I carefully delve into the less explored art of cooking gentle feasts, with say the low and slow nature that comes with a roast, where there are very little obstacles coming your way, having to just carefully take one step at a time. I feel in these instances that the fast-paced open nature of Latin American music just doesn’t suit.
To make up for this, I have secretly begun to delve into classical orchestra. I wouldn’t be caught dead doing this in the normal world, but when I’m preparing something in private, I’ve begun drifting towards the chilled out classical music of Pachelbel, Mozart, and Chopin. of course, all the actual music goes over my head, but I found appreciation for something so different from my normal tastes, solely because it perfectly encapsulates my love for cooking.
And, isn’t that the charm of music? To find something that’s just noise but becomes so much more than that when you find a way to properly open yourself to it.
I know I’m not the only one who has weird tastes in music in the kitchen. Tell me, what are you listening to?