Soundtracking Life, a new monthly feature created by Lior Phillips and co-developed with Matt Melis, aims to pair everyday life with the music that underscores, speaks to, and enhances our experiences. Last month, we took on 10 albums and books that make perfect fits. This month, the CoS Staff soundtracks our time spent cooking.
For some, cooking offers a moment of serenity and respite after a long day at the office. For others, it’s a painful chore only to be undertaken when the thought of takeout Thai for the sixth day in a row seems unconscionable. In my case, I taught myself to cook in order to make others eat crow. After years of receiving verbal abuse in the kitchen from nearly every person in my life—“Gee, Matt, if you hadn’t helped with dinner, we’d already be eating by now.” “No, no. I cook. You just make.” “I’m not gonna tell you how long to microwave that for; stick your finger in it, and see if it’s warm.” “These cookies would make good doorstops.”—I finally snapped like a bundle of raw spaghetti.
So, I set myself out on a grueling crash course. Every day for three straight weeks I holed up in the family kitchen to cook dinner, and before long I was putting out a damn nice spread each and every night. The secret ingredient to my success? A mixtape with nothing but Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” and the “Gonna Fly Now” Rocky theme playing nonstop, essentially soundtracking my own training montage. Only instead of racing Apollo Creed along a beach in Larry Bird shorts or growing a hockey playoff beard and scaling a Russian peak to call out Dolph Lundgren, I watched cooking shows, whisked and tenderized my little heart out, and even caught myself bitching out the produce guy at my local supermarket. In the end, I had my “Yo, Adrian” moment, and my detractors had to concede the fact that I had culinary chops.
Now, not everyone blares hokey sports movie anthems while making Caribbean stew in order to deliver a gourmet F-U to loved ones, but as it turns out, my fellow CoS staffers do have certain records that play in heavy rotation in their kitchens. Some of these albums set or fit a certain mood, while others seem to go well with a specific type of cuisine or occasion. So, here they are: 11 albums that you’ll hear playing in our kitchens. What’s playing in yours?