With its proximity to knives and fire, the kitchen is the last place anyone should be having an impromptu dance party. Still, no one wants to cook in silence, do they? Whether you like slicing and dicing to the sounds of vinyl LPs or the evening news, everyone’s got a soundtrack. We’re sharing ours below, and invite you to do the same.
I listened to a lot of excessively loud music before I had children, and neither my sons nor my yacht-rock-obsessed husband share my enthusiasm for “songs” that are mostly bass and unintelligible screaming. When I am working in the kitchen I like being left alone, so I’ll put on Suicide Silence or Gorguts or something of that nature to establish a boundary, then find a random metal playlist Spotify or iTunes so I can keep up with what the kids these days are listening to.
On the days when I’m in the kitchen writing and developing recipes, I like hot club/gypsy jazz, and French accordion music (bal-musette). I’ve never been to France and I’m not really any kind of Francophile, but for some reason their sad mime music just speaks to me. —Allison Robicelli, staff writer
Louis Prima has got to be the undisputed king of cooking music, right? It’s all fun vibes and silly lyrics, usually about food. People should have stopped writing song lyrics after “sunshine and ravioli (macaroni).” That said, I actually listen to a lot of instrumentals when I’m cooking. I think I prefer things without lyrics. The Beastie Boys’ The Mix-Up is fantastic; it feels jam band but still somehow super cool. Monster Rally has a ’60s swinger island vibe that I can listen to for hours, and I think it’s great music to get stoned and do prep work to. Slum Village’s first few albums were produced by J-Dilla, and the instrumentals there are smooth and immersive. Hearing loops gets me focused for whatever cooking task I’m about to do. Obscure Soundcloud beatmakers, chill hop, and lo-fi versions of video game themes come up constantly—I just love all that goofy stuff. Again, I’m usually high. —Danny Palumbo, contributor
Since I’m lucky enough not to live with anyone I’m responsible for feeding, I only take on those cooking or baking projects that bring me the most joy, a category that mainly consists of casseroles, cookies, cupcakes, and novelty Jell-O dishes. I gravitate toward those projects because their steps are methodical and soothing, so the soundtrack has to match. Naturally, that can only mean the most comforting music of all: the shit I used to belt out the car windows in high school. As I level off cups of flour or chop up a pound of bittersweet chocolate, angsty pop punk is my companion and I sing along to every single word without thinking. Left And Leaving, the Weakerthans’ perfect sophomore album, is also always in the rotation—but that’s true whether I’m anywhere near the kitchen or not. —Marnie Shure, editor in chief
Little Steven’s Underground Garage, hosted by Steven Van Zandt and playing on the internet and Sirius, is the very best radio show of all time. You can’t listen to it and not want to move. This is very good in the kitchen, especially when you’re chopping or washing dishes, which are much more fun if you do a little rhythmic moving around. Little Steven led me to rediscover 1960s girl groups and James Brown, beyond the Greatest Hits that have been played on oldies radio so often that they don’t even sound good anymore. I especially like listening to the girl groups while I’m making dinner after a particularly long day: When the Flirtations are singing “Nothing But A Heartache,” sauteing vegetables feels like a true act of defiance. —Aimee Levitt, associate editor