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Oct 11, 2011 02:23 PM

Musical Menus

At the suggestion of someone on another thread, I'm starting this one.
I have been teaching adult education classes in our community, combining my love (and expertise) of music, and cooking. The first class was called Beethoven Soup. The composer had once fired a housekeeper for lying, saying that if you lie, you do not have a good heart and if you do not have a good heart, you cannot make good soup. I chose 4 major works (4 session class) and prepared 4 different soups, mostly Austrian, with the last being borscht because "Beethoven" means "beet garden."
It was very successful and they wanted more.
Last year's classes were Aaron Copland and American Cuisine. Again, 4 major works. Fanfare for the Common Man featured common fan fare: pretzels with mustard and cheese dips, and coney dogs using Nathans' hot dogs and Cincinnati chilil (he wrote the piece for that orchestra).
Billy the Kid featured a corn chowder with New Mexican green chilies, and a chipotle cheesecake with a mango/jalapeno compote.
Rodeo featured chuckwagon food, "cowboy" beans, sourdough biscuits, applebutter.
Appalachain Spring featured Pennsylvania Dutch Chicken "bot boi" (a thick c. noodle soup), shoo fly pie, and a Shaker Lemon pie.
Then in November, I did a very corny class: Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Sweets, featuring drink mix recipes and desserts taken from the 2nd act... chocolate, coffee, tea... and of course, sugarplums!
They asked again, so am in the midst of a world music/world cuisine class... Sub-Saharan Africa featuring fou fou (Americanized, because I couldn't get the right ingredients), yellow rice, and a west African chicken stew, Middle East/North Africa (a feast of hummus, falafel, pita bread, and a variety of condiments like preserved lemon, olives, feta, tomatoes,) , India, and Indonesia.
Next month will feature history... Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras, featuring historical foods.
I have a masters degree in music, and went to 2 semesters of cooking school a couple of years ago (after quitting my teaching job.)
I combine music history, appreciation, lecturing while cooking. I use a variety of materials, cookbooks, media, children's books (because they have such awesome illustrations!).
So..... if you were to pair music and food, what would you do?

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  1. To get a Handel on this, I turned to George Friedrich for the menu:

    Call to Dinner - "Twas of the royal feast "(Alexander's Feast)
    Frogs Legs Appetizer - "The land brought forth Frogs" (Israel in Egypt)
    Clam Chowder - Water Music
    Chicken cacciatore - "He shall feed his flock" (Messiah)
    Venison - "As Pants the Hart" (Anthem)
    Lamb Chops - "All We Like Sheep" (Messiah)
    Wine - "The Praise of Bacchus" (Alexander's Feast)
    Breadsticks with Strawberry Jam - "Preserve Him" (Saul)
    Caesar Salad - (Giulio Cesare)
    Dessert: Heavenly Chocolate Cake - "Halleluja Chorus" (Messiah)

    1 Reply
    1. Last night's class was India.... I saw lots of recipes for potatoes, and when I saw a recipe for baked potato with spicy cottage cheese, well, it hit me. I did baked russets (smaller ones) and sweet potatoes (washed and cut into smaller portions). I made the cottage cheese topping, saag paneer, and a tamarind sauce. I found that our local Natural Grocer had the spices that I needed, at reasonable prices. I was unable to get paneer locally, could have made it, but used queso fresco instead. It's a substitution they could easily find. Several stores do offer packaged spice mixes and frozen selections that are good, so I've been told.
      I put together a slide show of photographs of instruments, and images from India, accompanied by a variety of musical examples. I also included children's books (they are colorful, and really have a way of expressing culture), cookbooks, and music books (my personal Shankar's My Music, My Life, being one), finding most at the local library.
      We had a great time! It wasn't the expected "curry." Several of the students had been to India, and are quite the world travelers. I've only been in books and musical experiences.... someday.... I digress...
      Next week, I cook in a classroom, someone else had booked the teaching kitchen. Bali will be the theme.

      1. Holst's "The Planets."

        Mercury --- fast, chilly small bites
        Jupiter, bringer of jollity --- boozy items, bourbon balls, chicken marsala, zabaglione
        Mars, bringer of war ---- HOT stuff -- Szechuan chicken, habenero salsa, arrbiata pasta
        Venus, bringer of love --- romantic food/aprhodisiacs -- oyster stew, molten chocolate cake, truffles (chocolate)

        I hope you let us know what you post....I would love to take your class!

        1. You know what would be really fun? Do a class based on Peter Schickele's parody of the forgotten Bach, PDQ Bach...."The Seasonings." "Summer is a Cumin Seed." I think there was one about leeks on Babylon's shore.

          Hysterical piece...I've sung it and just loved it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: berkleybabe

            And I played most of his solo "instruments" in one memorable performance. The Windbreaker, the Slide Windbreaker, Shower Hose, and Kazoo. Tastefully, of course.

            1. re: DonShirer

              Don, sounds like you and I are on the same page...

            2. re: berkleybabe

              Great ideas! I've been to Hoople...

            3. This week.... Baroque. At first, I thought maybe doing something from the colonies (colonial America), and came up with oyster stew with johhncakes. But.... after looking at some jarred oysters (which I would have to use) I just couldn't bring myself to do that. They gross me out. The only oysters I would eat are smoked, on a ritz cracker with cream cheese. soooooo, back to the drawing board.
              While perusing the internet this morning, reading about Vivaldi, it led me to Italian dishes, and when I googled Baroque Italian food, I came across Pietro Gnocchi. Yes! So gnocchi it is! I make mine with ricotta and not potatoes, so will tell the class how to make ricotta cheese, and will do gnocchi. and insipired by Autumn (4 seasons), will do a squash/sage/browned butter sauce.

              edit... or maybe pumpkin gnocchi with the sage butter..... ?????????