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How Does Your Music Taste?

Charlotte Lear explores how music can jazz up your everyday home cooking experiences.

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Image Credit: Charlotte Lear

I am writing this because I am genuinely convinced that my food tastes better when I cook to some serious chef bops. Catch me in the kitchen with an enormous glass of red while blasting a heavenly combination of Amy Winehouse and Daniel Caesar… honestly it works.

It might be because I’m a bit of a die-hard MOB Kitchen fan (founded by Ben Lebus in 2016) but I have definitely noticed the significance of the relationship between music and food; for example, its place in the background of cooking videos.

Initially MOB started out by accompanying food videos with undiscovered music in order to collaborate with and grow smaller artists which, for one, is fantastic. However, this has grown beyond collaboration and now the recipes in their books are paired with Spotify codes, their Spotify regularly updates playlists for cooking accompaniment, and their brand-new website features a host of artist mixtapes, amongst them work from Frankie Stew and Harvey Gunn.

Is it because both music and food are such sensory experiences? You don’t need to read a book or do any research to find out what you do or don’t like, you take the experience itself and learn from it which breeds the process of memory formulation; the creation of nostalgia… I can hear Proust singing from beyond the grave.

The combination of the two thus exudes a synaesthetic-like quality in which the indulgence of one evokes memories of the other.

Bear with me as I make a drawn-out attempt at psychoanalysing my cooking habits, but this combination of cooking and listening to music is akin to meditation. It is widely known that music aids concentration, my end-of-year round-up on Spotify ties this together by hitting home the hard figures of how often I actually spend at home with your typical study playlist on.

If we’re going to be more Proustian about this, then you could argue that it perpetuates a sense of control and personability, the therapeutic nature of repetition with chopping and stirring feeds into this idea that it is a creative process. Through Proust’s ability to see beyond the external covering of everyday things, we can discern hidden meaning in the meditative qualities of our everyday experiences.

James P. Gilroy explores this in writing that, “food is for Proust an important component of the aesthetic domain and can be enjoyed in that regard like painting, music, and literature,” which exemplifies this layered approach to our appreciation of the home-cooked meal. When paired with music, then, we create a multifaceted aesthetic experience that both nurtures and creates therapeutic memories.

I’m not entirely sure if Shakespeare was perfecting his spaghetti bolognaise while bouncing to the top tunes of the times when he was writing, but there is something prevalent about the words, “if music be the food of love play on”. Due to the advent of music streaming services allowing us to curate flavoursome playlists from a base of millions of songs, a love of music and food seamlessly harmonise to produce a hopeful new wave of cooking as an indulgent act of self-preservation.

The moral of the story is, essentially, make a cooking playlist.

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