Passion for music shared with love of food, family

By Sarah Contreras

There is only one thing I love more than I love music.

That thing has many facets. It’s sensual and complex. It changes moods and alters world views. It’s finicky. It requires a certain kind of touch. Both delicate and bold, this thing takes up about 40 percent of my brain waves. I’m a slave to it, and oh what sweet slavery it is.

Have you guessed it?

Yes. That thing is food.

Food has always held a certain fascination for me. Growing up in East Los Angeles, I didn’t have a lot of access to a large range of dishes. I did, however, have an abundance of people around me who had spent their entire lives feeding large families and even communities.

And so the food they had mastered, while appropriately commonplace amongst us poorer folk, was always delicious. Cheap skirt steak was marinated and grilled, large hunks of low-end pork turned into huge pots of chile verde, and chicken was stuffed into tacos, empanadas and ever-present tamales.

Food was how we communicated. Large parcels of tamales were delivered to neighbors and friends at Christmastime – that is how we said “I love you.” My teenage years were spent with cousins upon cousins, and since there were a lot of us, there was a lot of food.

My cousin’s hours spent in the kitchen to feed her children and myself were her way of showing she cared, even if she never really said it out loud. Our family dynamic was dramatic and complex, but when her food was on the table, we ate and loved.

It’s been a long time since I sat at a table with blood family members. However, food still means “family” to me. Because “family” does not necessarily mean blood relations. Family is the people you care about, the people who support you. Food reminds me of a much cared about ex-boyfriend who guided me through a number of rough years and convinced to care as much about where a food comes from as how it tastes.

Food reminds me of the many, many times this past year that I have cooked and shared with my friends, my new family.

Thankfully, I manage to marry my two passions a few times a week.

No, I don’t make musical pancakes. But I do frequently get my groove on in my teeny kitchen.

Like most tasks, I can’t cook without a soundtrack. Sometimes I’ll cue up a concert on YouTube; sometimes I rely on stand-up comedy albums. But there are certain songs that always get me feeling really good.

This is important, as the myth is true–people can taste the emotions you put into your cooking. My combined passion for food and music can turn out some pretty impressive muffins.

Do you get down in your own kitchen? What is you preferred soundtrack to everyday tasks?