I wanted to be a chef. I almost went to culinary arts school. This was way back when I was in 8th grade, right after the "Home Ec Revolution." You know, when they started allowing guys to take Home Economics. Girls could take shop classes too. We thought they looked cute in those safety glasses, though they weren't impressed with our skill at the belt sander races (1. Place sanders on edge of work table 2. Plug in sander 3. Hoot and holler as the sander screams to life, whips across the table and flies into the air at the opposite end 4. Hope that no damage was done as the sander smashes into the front of the table after a midair reverse of direction at the end of the extension cord 5. Hope even harder that the shop teacher hasn't come back into the room).
So between learning how to cook crumb-topped coffee cake, attending a cooking show at the Hartford Civic Center, and having the cool opportunity to help with the task of preparing a Thanksgiving dinner for the whole school, I was hooked. I wanted to be a chef.
Of course, it never happened and I don't even remember why. The thing is, I still love to cook. I even own a set of chef's whites (way better than an apron for keeping splatters away) and one of those dorky knife-carrying bags (Go ahead and snicker, but if you ever rent a place for vacation, there's almost never a sharp knife in the place). I also love to read (and view) all things chef. Let me tell you, that kind of material is not in short supply. Books, magazines, television shows…it goes on and on.
One of my favorite things to read are the restaurant reviews in the New Yorker. The "Tables For Two" column showcases the crazy-great range of NYC's foodie offerings. What never fails to crack me up upon reading these things is when the ingredients get very "cheffy." Fois Gras is probably at the low end of this, followed by bone marrow, and then various surprises made from offal. Ick. Look, count me in as a foodie for things like super-tasty tapas or a mind-blowing Amuse Bouche (Here, I have to admit that I've always hated it when writers drop a bit of French/Latin/Spanish out of nowhere, but recently I saw Padma Lakshmi say (and eat) "Amuse Bouche" on Top Chef…and I can't get the image out of my head).
Uh…where was I?
Right, "cheffy" ingredients. I have no doubt that people like this stuff. And my amusement at the idea of it got me to thinking about the musical world, specifically, really "out there" music. Is there some motivational cross-section for the enjoyment of the loud, the rude, and the downright strange? Do I enjoy, say, the scary and powerful blasts from Peter Brötzmann's saxophone just for the music's sake, or should it's intrinsic shock potential be factored in? It's hard to say. Some of these sounds are definitely exhilarating to me, though the shock factor is really only in my head as I don't often share the music with anybody else. Imagine this scenario: me and TheWife™ are driving through the mountains and I pop in a CD. After 10 seconds of apocalyptic bray, she says "What is this? It's making me nervous!"…."It's 'Fuck de boere' by Peter Brötzmann!"…"That's nice. Can we listen to some Ellis Paul?!"
I don't know if there's an equivalent term for "cheffy" in the audio world. Maybe Pico's Whack Jazz comes close. All I know is that I do enjoy the stuff, just like some folks can dig a dish of goose intestines or…urp…venison heart tartare.