Steve Albini is one of the music world’s most renowned and prolific recording engineers: He has made his mark on an estimated 1,500-2,000 albums from the likes of Nirvana, the Pixies, Fugazi, PJ Harvey, Will Oldham, Low, Joanna Newsom, and Jarvis Cocker. He’s also a guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer, and music journalist. But most importantly, he is now also a food blogger.
Albini started his blog, Mario Batali Voice, in March. The blog chronicles what he makes his wife, Heather, for dinner. The name, he writes, “comes from the way I bring her food in bed and present it to her using an imitation of Mario Batali’s voice from TV.”
Albini’s tastes are eclectic: Vegan spring rolls, honey-chipotle hanger steak with kale and bulgur farrotto (and homemade sweet tea), cavatappi with peas and dates, and dolma are just a few of the dishes that have passed through his kitchen.
There are no actual recipes (“I eyeball and taste everything like anybody who cooks a lot,” Albini explains), but there is plenty of narrative and observation. “Chicken these days,” Albini notes while making his Plan B Croquettes and Green Goddess, “isn’t that tasty unless you get an expensive artisanal hand-raised bird, but in a pinch, I’ll use supermarket chicken thighs, the only part of a modern commercial bird that still tastes like a chicken.”
On the topic of tomato paste as a base for pasta sauce, Albini is similarly forthright: “It tends to remind me of the heavy, wet red gravy served at suburban Mama Mia! Free Giant Garlic Bread! Meatballs As Big As Your Head! All You Can Eat Calamari! Half Price Pitchers On Mondays! Try Our Zucchini Poppers! Famous Tiramisu! Italian Restaurant! I cannot abide restaurants of this type. They debase our palates and insult our ancestors with watery matter piled in mountainous heaps and buried under granulated Kraft Foods ‘Parmesan.’ Screw this school lunch bullshit and get it the fuck away from me. Tomato paste is where that debasement and insult starts.”
Albini also doesn’t seem to be burdened by the sort of tortured, endless analysis that afflicts many a foodie. While making dolmas, he writes, “I made a dipping sauce because fuck it, why not.” He’s also modest about his cooking prowess: “Some of this food may not turn out that great, so replicating it would be pointless. I have also successfully cooked for our cats.”
We’re hoping it’s only a matter of time before a fish fry appears on the menu.
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 17, 2011