You’re seated at a banquet table with a rolling landscape of food upon its surface: fruits, vegetables, slabs of carved meat. The walls are large screens with Windows 95 installed. MS Paint twitches on the surface. A bowl of ice cream scooped into dripping spheres speckled with peppercorns melts. With each fat drip of white pepper ice cream, a strange girlish whisper reverberates across the room: “Let’s eat carrots together until…let’s eat carrots together until…” A faint mist falls from the ceiling, the kind that keeps supermarket vegetables fresh, and angelic operatics sing “we are taking sugar water shower.”
“SHUT UP AND EAT TOO BAD NO BON APPETIT” screaming voices erupt from no perceptible source. All of the food and spoons come alive and dance around you. A broken jukebox in the corner groans to life, starting with some Renaissance choral music before switching to bossa nova, old school hip hop, jazz and funk (this makes more sense once you watch some of their music videos and listen to their music).
This is what it’s like for me when I listen to Cibo Matto, a band of 90s fame (Youtube “Do You Know Your Chicken”) based in New York City. A synesthesia of color, sound and taste, their music is a buffet of music genres, spanning from minimalist old school hip hop beats to experimental “sound,” trip hop and then to Bossa Nova. Meaning “Crazy Food” in Italian, Cibo Matto often writes songs about food as a means of getting at some other point, like writing about food when actually writing about love. The gastronomic content is of advanced stock. Seedless grapes and cheese, artichoke hearts, wasabi and of course, white pepper ice cream become immortalized in Cibo Matto’s art pop-y, kitschy gloriousness. The two Japanese women who front the band, Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori (Sean Lennon was in the band for a while) are my life icons.
Hotel Valentine was just released this past February 14th as their first album after a fourteen-year hiatus. My favorite new song from Hotel Valentine is “Housekeeping,” part of their album backstory concept of ghosts in a haunted hotel.
Recipes inspired by Cibo Matto songs
Go to SuperAmerica and buy a pack of beef jerky. Accompany the dried meat with carrots to feel better about the preservatives you’re salting your organs with. Your jaw might hurt.
White Pepper Ice Cream
White pepper ice cream sounds legitimately delicious so here is a legitimate recipe, though I don’t imagine many of us have ice cream makers so this will be the store-bought version.
Vanilla bean ice cream
1 tbsp cracked peppercorns (white or black or both)
sprigs of fresh basil
Crush the peppercorns with the back of a spoon and in a bowl of vanilla bean ice cream, mash up the crushed peppercorns into the ice cream, mixing it but not too much or else you will have ice cream soup which is less appealing, despite how often I did that as a kid. Garnish with basil, which tastes surprisingly good with vanilla ice cream.
Cibo Matto @ Turf Club
1601 University Ave, Saint Paul
Tuesday, March 4th, 7pm