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- Enrique Limón
Local dishes to complement your favorite music genre.
By Alex Springer
The more I learn about chefs and the lives they lead, the more I compare them to rock stars. See, they're defined by their passion and creativity as much as they are by their obsessive perfectionism and self-destructive personalities. If that's the case, then the food that we put into our mouths should have some cosmic connection to the music that we put into our ears. It's the kind of thing I think about late into the night, but the more I explored, the more I realized that music and food aren't that far removed from one another. That being said, here's a culinary interpretation of music genres to get your taste buds to cheer for an encore way past the summer months.
Indie rock is easy to digest, cruelty-free, 100 percent sustainable existential dread—and it's often found lurking around coffee shops characterized by baristas that prepare their brews with Zen-like concentration and hand cups of hot coffee to customers as if they'd just delivered an infant. Of course, the pinnacle of coffee shop cuisine is the humble and oft-maligned avocado toast. Nothing quite evokes the tattooed philosophical longing exemplified by indie rock than a thick slice of artisan bread, slathered in smashed, ripe avocado flesh, and sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. My personal favorite rendition of this classic happens to be found at Publik Coffee Roasters (975 S. West Temple, publikcoffee.com). True masters of their craft, they don't pulverize the avocado into guacamole, and they always sprinkle it with just the right amount of black pepper.
After thinking long and hard about this one, I have to say that the most punk-rock dish you could eat is probably a hot dog from 7-Eleven (7-eleven.com). These meat sticks are a blatant middle finger to the establishment du jour, which happens to be an expensive, exclusive space where the word "curated" comes to bear. Plus, digging deep into the in-house Petri dish, otherwise known as the condiment station, unlocks a small chance of catching a foodborne illnesses—making the whole process slightly dangerous. Noshing on a salt rocket while potentially getting exposed to hepatitis? What could be more punk rock than that?
Reggae music makes me think of the beach, and the beach makes me think of fish tacos. You'd think it's hard to come by really good fish tacos here in our landlocked state—and you'd be wrong. The folks at Lone Star Taquería (2265 E. Fort Union Blvd., lstaq.com) are dedicated to recreating that coastal staple and their fish taco and burrito menu rotates based on what fish is in season, so they're always fresh. I'm not sure whether it's the way they cook their fish or if it's the famous cilantro and jalapeño mayonnaise, but I have yet to be disappointed by their rich menu.
When I think of metal, I think of that strange, transcendent place where pain and pleasure meet for a brief moment before the scale tips one way or the other. When food is concerned, the best example of this paradoxical moment comes from eating stuff that ranks sufficiently high on the Scoville scale. Something like the Ring of Fire Burger at Lucky 13 (135 W. 1300 South, lucky13slc.com), which is the reigning champion of food that has kicked my ass. It's one of their delectable bacon cheeseburgers decked out with a few huge scoops of grilled jalapeños and habaneros for maximum mayhem. It strikes the exact balance that metal does—it's delicious so you want to keep eating, and eventually the pain of all that heat starts to meld with the pleasure of how good the burger tastes. If metal was a burger, it would live at Lucky 13.
I dunno. Wine and cheese?
I suppose alt-country might be a more accurate genre for The Hoss at Sweet Lake Biscuits and Limeade (54 W. 1700 South, sweetlakeslc.com). It's a far cry from the Blake Sheltons and the Brad Paisleys of the country circuit—if you're after a food equivalent of that crap, look no further than your neighborhood KFC. The Hoss, on the other hand, represents something a bit more nuanced, a tad more grounded and possesses a lot more character. It drips farm-fresh country goodness with each bite of its buttermilk biscuits, sausage gravy, thick bacon and golden fried chicken. There's something honest and hardworking about The Hoss that represents the roots of country music, and it has yet to sell out.
As greasy, floppy, reheated pizza is the patron saint of garage rock, the slice of the day at The Pie Hole (344 S. State, pieholeutah.com) is as good as it gets. The classic pizza stalwarts of pepperoni, cheese and vegan are always an option, but sometimes these guys get really weird with their offerings. A post-concert pizza run at 1 a.m. can put you in a mood strange enough to buy what they're selling. Mangos with Thai peanut sauce and sliced potatoes with garlic are just a few of their more accessible pies, and their adherence to New York-style thin-crust pizza adds to its garage rock authenticity.
I'm a total cultural outsider when it comes to rap music, but I've very much come to appreciate the way listening to it makes me check myself before I wreck myself. That said, I'm going out on a limb and saying that the best culinary manifestation of the rap genre comes from the taco stands on State Street, between 800 and 900 South. Rap music has always been about embracing the roots of where you come from, even if those roots are planted in the asphalt of city streets. It's also about turning the frustrations of being marginalized by the world at large into an art form that can't be culturally appropriated. That said, the men and women behind these taco stands are doing exactly the same thing—they're staying true to their cultural roots, and they're translating their experience into a singular art form that you just can't get anywhere else. Rap music and taco carts have unfairly earned a negative stigma for their presence in American culture, but that stigma can easily be removed with a little understanding (and an adventurous appetite).