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Re: thoughts on music and cooking

I can't help but smile when I saw your post Josh. I've always associated the analogy of cooking akin to musical creativity and improvisation. I hold on to the belief that it's really about the individual's sense of quality, timing and portioning. And like most cuisines from around the world not all music is for everyone's liking. :) 
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2007 12:16 AM
Subject: OT: thoughts on music and cooking

In addition to creating music, I also like to cook.  I especially like to making (or rather, attempting to make) sauces.

A few years ago I set out to make the perfect salsa.  It took me a few tries, but pretty quickly I came up with a recipe that embodied what I think salsa should taste like.  All my friends love it too.  I usually make it a little thinner and milder than I would personally prefer, but I'm still happy with the flavor, and I feel like it has something unique about it; a little bit of myself expressed in a sauce.

This year I decided that my previous recipe was too complicated, so I set out to create a new recipe with half the ingredients.  I nailed it on my first try, and honestly I think the simpler recipe tastes better (though a couple of my friends would argue with me).

However, I've also been trying to come up with a barbecue sauce recipe that embodies all I love about barbecue for a few years now, and after dozens of tries, I'm about ready to give up.  Everything I make sucks, and while a couple of my friends are nice enough to eat my experiments, I know it's never very good.

I think there are several reasons for the difference in success rates, but perhaps the most important is this:  I have an exact idea of the way I think salsa should taste, and I'm familiar enough with the ingredients to make that happen pretty much every time I make it (a few flops excepted).  But when it comes to barbecue sauce, I've tasted so many different influential sauces that I loved, from thin and vinegary to thick and sweet, spicy, brassy, smokey, tart, etc. that it's nearly impossible for me to envision a sauce that captures my favorite things about each.  Furthermore, there are so many possibilities for different ingredients that I'm just not as familiar with, that when I taste a half-finished sauce and think "hmm... it needs a little of that sweet flavor from Sharon's house sauce," I'm left guessing at how to make that happen.


All of that to say, I look at a lot of you guys (and groups like The Books, Sigur Ros, etc.), and it at least appears that your efforts at making music flow the way salsa-making does for me.  You know exactly what you're going for, and you stick with it.  Even when it takes a surprising turn, it still turns out great.  And I've watched with envy as several of you have sold-off gear and simplified your sets (stripped out half of the ingredients) and come up with a new recipe that's even more profound and satisfying that what you did at first.

But lately, making music has felt like trying to make the perfect barbecue sauce to me.  I have so many diverse influences and sounds in my head that I want to combine, and I have all this technology at my fingertips that I'm just not as familiar with as I would like to be, that I feel overwhelmed by the endeavor.  And everything I have come up with so far is just not satisfying to me.

And I'd like at least a few people to think it's good too, but right now the artists I'm hearing who come closest (check out http://www.myspace.com/sonlux for one example) are too much of a stretch for even my most musically inclined friends.

Has anyone else been here, or am I even making sense?  Any words of wisdom?