Cooking above your abilities

The Soundtrack: Music For Cooking Way Above Your Culinary Abilities

Welcome to The Soundtrack, a column where we plumb the depths of our musical knowledge to bring you the best* (subjective) music to listen to for very specific life situations.

Most of us, hopefully, aren’t complete disasters in the kitchen. Sure, when nobody’s looking you might sometimes revert to a cheese and tomato toasty for dinner, but you probably have a solid handful of go-to meals you’re pretty confident with, if nothing more than a nice colourful stir-fry (if not, please work on yourself). Regardless, that’s actually not what this week’s The Soundtrack is about. This week we’re talking about those times you’ve bitten off more than you can chew (heh) and gone absolutely ham (heh heh) with cooking something far fancier than you’re comfortable with.

Perhaps it’s a first date you want to impress, or the in-laws are coming over, or you’re throwing your first Grown Up Dinner Party. Something has motivated you to crack open that dusty old French dining cookbook your parents gave you in the hopes you’d grow up to be a fully functional human being (sorry, mum and dad). You’ve bought the ingredients, got the right cookware, and are now completely broke and scared shitless that you might not actually be able to pull this off. You need to remain focused and calm, but the clock is also ticking and your confidence needs a boost – you need The Soundtrack.

Björk – It’s Oh So Quiet

Let’s get stuck in while your anxiety is still relatively low. This song will make you feel like you’re cooking in a light-filled apartment in Paris, with posies in your window-box and nothing but time. You’re not a cuisine-challenged twenty-something, you’re Amélie and everything you’re doing is super quirky and endearing, even – especially – the mistakes you make as you go along. It should be noted that yes, this is a cover, but it’s arguably even more intrinsically charming than the original, and that’s what you need right now. It is a truth universally acknowledged that woodwinds in a pop song will transport you to another, much more Wes Anderson-y reality. Knead that dough lovingly with the confidence that Our Lady and Saviour Björk is watching over you, and she believes in you.

Kelis – Jerk Ribs

Alright, perhaps the song this album is from (Food) is what made it spring to mind initially, but just you fucken try chucking this bad boy on and telling me it’s not perfect. Hear that beat? That definitely sounds like pots and pans, right? You’re a regular Nigella Lawson, playing each kitchen instrument just so to make this meal sing. That meaty brass section is the key here – taking organised chaos to a more self-assured level. It feels just like it should” – I mean, you can’t argue with that. The water is boiling, you’ve lined up the spices you’re going to need to use all nice on the bench in front of you. Honestly? Maybe this won’t be so hard. Maybe you ARE a culinary god/dess after all?

The Internet – Gabby

Okay, don’t panic, but you forgot to include butter way back at the start when you needed it. Look, it’s okay, it’s fixable, but this is your first really huge roadblock, and you’re going to need something that will play backdrop to your valiant corrective efforts as well as berate you gently for being such a fucking moron. This little slice from The Internet is simultaneously smooth as HELL – to soothe your frazzled nerves – and kinda uncomfortable in its chord movements, creating the same sort of environment as a good friend telling you “Look, you screwed up, but she’ll be right mate”. And you will, if you can keep your cool, which leads us right into…

Desmond Cheese – Dope Vhs Master

There’s only one kind of song that can help you level out now: a slow-moving soulful instrumental jam. Something steady, something that feels as fresh as it does familiar. Brisbane duo MakCheese and Desmond Bagely are otherwise known as Desmond Cheese, which is simultaneously both the coolest and grossest name I have ever heard. Everything they do is incredibly groove-based and delightfully weird, but this song is the ticket to the state of calm you’re going to need to make it through this stressful time. Warped, tropical synths and a simple motif that repeats but develops each time will ground and inspire you as you carefully back-track to where you went wrong. You’re good now. Everything looks as it should, basically. Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back – except…

UV Boi فوق بنفسجي  – Running Out Of Time

Oh shit. Your guest(s) are due in like twenty minutes and, according to this incredibly convoluted recipe, you have thirty minutes of work left to do before you plate up. This is literally your own personal version of MasterChef, and the clock is ticking. You might be rolling your eyes at me for choosing a song with such an obvious title for this situation – chuck it on and I think you’ll see just how appropriate this is. Suspenseful, rolling toms dash in and out of the mix, with some particularly apt clock-tick effects thrown in for good measure, reminding you that you are literally the worst ever at time management. But this track isn’t all about stressing you the fuck out – faux-choral sounds take this vibe back from the edge of tension and throw it all the way back to the whimsical. Because, let’s be honest you guys – it’s just dinner. If you royally screw it up, there’s always Deliveroo.

Image: Wallpaper Cave