Cooking is fun. Usually. But sometimes it's not. Like when I'm peeling ten potatoes or trying to get the skin off twenty cloves of garlic or scraping an inch of char off the bottom of a burnt pot or washing up. (Did I mention we don't have a dishwasher? We don't have a microwave either. We're practically cavemen.)
But music helps. Whether you're cooking or eating, music can heighten the experience. For example, if you crank Neil Young and Crazy Horse up to maximum volume, you won't even hear your dinner boil over and burn. (Nor will next door theirs.)
In talking about music and cooking, may I preface this by saying I don't like those cookbooks that come with a CD inside the front cover with titles like Warm Food Cool Jazz. Why? I don't know. I just don't. If anyone has given me one, I apologise. It's nothing personal.
In fact, I don't even like 'cool' jazz. I like a lot of different types of jazz, but not the kind that sounds like an airhose going off underwater with notes wriggling up and down the scale like an insane snake accompanied by bangs and toots. It drives me nuts. There. I'm a philistine as well as a caveman.
Having said that, let's talk about what I do like. A good way to get a picture of what someone likes is to ask them to list an A-Z of their musical tastes, naming the first thing that comes to mind for each letter. So here's the first half of mine:
A. All India Radio: fantastic sounds, ideal for a sweltering night when you are sitting outside with a cold drink next to you and it's so hot even the crickets are too hot to chirp. All India Radio's ambient sounds creep out the window and the notes surf the humidity before falling to the ground, where they die, quietly.
C. Cranberries, The. Dreams has always been one of my favourite songs. And Dolores O'Riordan's voice kills me. The Irish accent is the best in the world.
D. Diorama, Silverchair's 2002 album. They worked with Van Dyke Parks on this. They're barely kids and they write a song called Without You and it's as good, in an entirely different way, as Harry Nilsson's Without You. Check out some of the reviews.
E. Enya. You can't have too many Irish singers. Listen to Marble Halls and weep tears of joy. Or of sadness, if you listen to the lyrics.
F. Fugues. Don't ask me what a fugue is. Look up a few definitions on the 'net and see if you can work out what the hell they're talking about. I just like how they sound.
G. Gregorian Chant. In fact, most choral music. Speaking of medieval, I love the way the choir at church sings stuff composed five and six centuries ago. Palestrina, Allegri, Byrd. It puts what happened yesterday or last week in perspective. Well, it does for me.
H. Hushabye: my favourite Beach Boys song. It's just a simple lullaby but the harmonies are beautiful. Hard to find but it's in the Good Vibrations boxed set. Pillows lying on your bed/Oh my darling rest your head/Sandman will be coming soon/Singing you a slumber tune.
I. I Wish You Were Here. By Ed Kuepper, genius. Enough said. Try Ed Kuepper Sings His Greatest Hits For You on Hot Records. Once you do you'll wonder where you've been all your life. Or where Ed's been.
J. Mental blank. Someone remind me on something starting with J.
K. Kenneth McKellar singing Silent Worship from Handel's Ptolemy. Hard to find but released among others on Where'er You Walk by Polygram Classics Australia. Can't find a link.
Anyone else want to have a go? I'd be interested to hear.