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Tastes in Food and Music: Is there a correlation?

I was just thinking about people's tastes in food and music. When I consider the differences in the flavor palettes of say, classic French cuisine and traditional Japanese food, I can't help but think of the parallel differences in music, too.

Would you say that people who enjoy many types of music also enjoy many kinds of food? Is there a correlation between enjoying a cuisine and enjoying the music of that cuisine? Are people who like non-traditional musical forms more likely to enjoy unusual dishes or exotic foods?

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  1. So interesting to come across this thread just now. We went to Babbo tonight for the first time. And it was intersting to walk into the restaurant and meet up with Jimi Hendrix, and then the North Mississippi Allstars at pretty ear-splitting decible levels wafting over the speaker system!

    So, instead of posting to yet another of the one hundred Babbo treads in action at chowhound -- I'm wondering - how important is music to your dining experience? Can the music playing ruin or completely enhance your food intake?

    And just for the record. I love food! I love music! My husband is a DJ for a very respected public radio station here in the city. So, I'm interested in the music choices that restaurants choose. And occasionally, as tonight, I'm shocked! I can certainly understand loud rock back in the kitchen at Babbo -- but for the front of the house, I thought it was an odd choice.

    What do you think when you're eating?

    1 Reply
    1. re: amyleechen

      I love the musice at Babbo! Beside the food and service, that was my favorite thing there.

      I wished I lived in NY so I could go regularly.

    2. I think a link is possible for adventurous eaters and "adventurous" music lovers. A good friend of mine certainly fits the profile. He will try any recipe, any ingredient, and any band/group/artist at least once or twice before passing judgement. I, on the other hand, love to try new cuisines and ingredients but I know exactly what type of music I want to hear. I don't want to disparage any specific music genre, but I just don't want to subject my ears to the possibility of the same cacophony that comes over some public radio stations today.

      2 Replies
        1. re: Eat_Nopal

          Depends on what I'm cooking. If its comfort food, then the mellow stuff like Norah Jones and Jack Johnson. If I'm just being a little insane in the kitchen, trying to create something with random stuff that I've found/heard about on the boards, then some techno/trance mixes.

      1. Hard question to answer since there are many variables and music and food have very different meanings to each person.

        I know people who like all kinds of music but aren't into food beyond consuming not to die. I also know people who like a particular type of music but like all kinds off food. Example: my Dad is stuck in big band type music but if the food is good (regardless of the orgin) he'll say so and enjoy it.

        On a general note however I do think people who have broadened their horizons musically and food wise would be open to a variety of either...but everyone has preferences and limits. There's also something to be said about a discerning palette.

        I do think music can enhance an experience and add a dimension but if the food or music are good they can stand on their own and often are better alone. Tough question.

        1. Mozart with pizza, Brahms with pork chops and Bach with linguini. Makes perfect sense.

          1 Reply
          1. re: beevod

            This reminds me of the scene in "City Slickers" where the 'ice cream'
            brothers are challenged to name the best flavor to follow a particular

          2. BBQ? Honkytonk country, delta blues.
            Tikified Polynesian? Martin Denny.
            Classical French? Satie, Ravel.
            Tes-Mex? Los Superseven.
            Per Se Tasting Menu? The Ring Cycle (beginning to end).
            Olive Garden? Julius LaRosa, Lou Monte.
            Jewish Deli? The Klezmatics.
            German? Lotte Lenya.
            A lovely day, a shady tree, a loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and a comely thou? Mozart or Tony Bennett.

            ...and the beat goes on...

            1 Reply
            1. re: Striver

              Ha- the ring cycle from beginning to end. Comes with a pillow :)

            2. Whether a fine dining room or a coffee house music seems to always be a part of the ambience and I agree it can make or break conversation/mood at a table.

              Perhaps if the chef was picking the music as well as the fresh market/fresh catch of the day the two would meld. It's been our exp' that pre-recorded music is beholden to the indiv kept in charge of the on/off button whereas live music is an owners choice.


              1. I'm enjoying The Grateful Dead with my veggie burrito as I type.

                1. I know people who like many kinds of food who aren't the least bit interested in music, except what they listened to as teenagers and that's about it. And, oh, the ubiquity of music/muzac in our lives. My mother used to live close to the jersey shore, and every time we went to a local fish shack by the water it was inevitable that any potential mood would be ruined by some idiotic idea that we all have to pretend like we're 16 years old (translation: the louder it is, the more fun we're having) and blast Jimmy Buffet music instead of listening to the waves lap against the dock.

                  1. I don't think there's much correlation, because although I love exploring virtually every type of cuisine and will try nearly anything once, I'm pretty wedded to the same genre of music that I've enjoyed my entire life. However, unlike many folks in their 40s, I still follow new bands and hope to make new discoveries within that genre.

                    On a side note, whenever I hear Indian or Middle Eastern or Cajun music, I get really hungry and start craving those kind of foods...guess it's a Pavlovian reaction from eating in Indian restaurants!

                    1. For me there is a correlation:
                      eclectic tastes in food, with favorites, and the same with music!
                      Still follow new bands / still eager to try 'new' cuisines/foods!

                      1. I've been thinking about music and food all day. I do think that both are wonderful ways to explore other cultures.

                        1. It is certainly true of us, and I can imagine a limited correlation, simply because some people are more daring/interested in new things than others. I read once that almost all people become gradually more resistant to any new experience over time - I think the average age when it stopped altogether was 35-40. If a person had not tried something by that time (technology, food, band, clothing style) they were extremely unlikely to adopt it later.

                          I have to admit that when I was dating, a picky eater was almost certainly removed from my dating pool. I know it isn't always the case, but in my completely unscientific survey of friends/relatives/co-workers/etc. picky eaters were also less apt to enjoy discovering other new things.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: meg944

                            I just don't buy the assumption that by the age of 40 most folks have lost their willingness to try new things...lots of folks take up new hobbies after that age, when they finally have the time and money to enjoy them....and while I am very eager to try new foods, I am not that interested in following new bands!

                            it may be however, that both hearing and the palate are somewhat dimmed as a person gets older, but sometimes that makes one more, rather than less, willing to try something new! :-)

                            1. re: susancinsf

                              Well, I found a couple of links to stories about the study, if you're interested. Obviously it isn't true of everyone, but there is truth in it.
                              To listen:

                              To read:

                              1. re: susancinsf

                                Perhaps it is age, but I can't think of anything I could happily eat with loud rap music playing. Certain puportedly musical noises make food indigestible. I once had to leave a burger joint because the bass was making it impossible to swallow my food.

                            2. Not sure about the correlation, but had an interesting experience with it this weekend: we were dining in a restaurant that prides itself on unusual ingredients used in creative ways: and the food was creative, but they played the same CD (Mozart's Concerto for Horns), over and over and over again (it was all that played during the entire time we were seated)! I am certain the wait staff didn't notice, and I suspect the majority of the patrons didn't either (I might not myself, had hubby, who does notice and care about these things, not pointed it out...)

                              1. In my experience there is no correlation. I worked and volunteered for my local public radio station who at the time played jazz, blues, classical, world beat etc. Some of the staff members as well as volunteers who had amazing CD/record collections had pretty pedestrian tastes in food. There were a few exceptions of course but I think those people who liked exotic foods either traveled more or were exposed to different foods growing up.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                  Agreed, many of the serious record collector types have no interest in spending time or money on anything besides music. But then there's another category of folks who love enjoying different kinds of music and food.

                                  That said, I love music, I've spent most of my life in music clubs, but I don't find it necessary or even likeable to have a rock concert or club scene environment at my eating places. I will walk out of bars or restaurants like that and go somewhere else. I'd prefer no music (just the sound of drinks being shaken and happy diners not shouting over canned noise). Low-volume live music may be pleasant. Otherwise maybe instrumental CDs/satellite at a low volume. The worst is places with routine best-of music (rock = Hendrix, jazz = Billie Holiday, Euro-romantic = Gypsy Kings). That and places that insist on playing radio that has lots of commercials, talking, and often is suffering poor reception.

                                2. the music at OTTO, another Mario place, has ruined some meals. when you go for an early sunday dinner with the parents, i don't think they should be playing the same headbanging music that may be played on a friday or saturday night, but that's just me.

                                  1. LOVE the music at Babbo. Still fondly remember the very first time I ate there. Group of four, late reservation, tasting menu. We were literally the last diners in the restaurant and yet the kitchen kept sending out extra dessert courses, during one of which I suddenly noticed that Hendrix was playing. First time I'd ever heard rock in a three-star house. The only thing that sometimes bugs me is the utter absence of music in some temples of cuisine (Montrachet, Le Bernadin and Bouley come to mind. If conversation lags for even a moment you start to feel like you're in church).

                                    1. I love Hendrix, love loud music. My experience with it at Babbo, however, made for a very odd clash with the rest of the house ambience. It was 8pm on a Sunday night. If it had been later in the evening, it may have been a kick! I love musical surprises -- particularly when I'm in restaurants. I'm always aware of the music playing. This was just one of those times it didn't quite work.

                                      1. I love music. I love food. And music is OK during meals at home if I'm by myself. But a major reason I go to restaurants is to spend time with my friends. It's irritating to me if music interferes with gabbing, even if it's music I love.

                                        1. All I listen to on the radio now is Mexican Cumbia after becoming obsessed with the food of Mexico.

                                          1. As I perused the NYTimes Style Supplement section, I noted two nods towards music and food. First, "Ear Candy" - a list of the Top 5 playlists of three different restaurants Momofuku, NYC; Avec, Chicago; and Tableau (Vegas, baby).

                                            The second, an essay "Mood Obsessed. Must every meal have a soundtrack?" To which I say, "yes, please!"

                                            1. The music at Babbo is part of the reason I love the place! It adds to meal and does not detract from it at all. I feel the same way about Otto. Honestly, music choice (or a lack of music) is part of the overall experience at a restaurant. I have dined at many fine establishments where the only noise is the din of conversation in the restaurant. And, it was perfect because it matched the atmosphere of the room and in some ways enhanced the flavors of the dishes.

                                              1. It depends on the restaurant. If it is a hip kinda joint, I like hip music. If it is ultra fine dining, I'd go for something smooth. If it's soul food, let's hear some soul music...etc., etc.

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