Interview by L. Valena
What did you respond to?
I responded to a piece of music called Queen of Cups. As soon as I received the piece I listened to it, and I immediately got chocolate, so that's what I went with. The piece starts out kind of dark and quiet, it was really silky and smooth and just immediately made me think of chocolate. Then there were these crispy little percussion things in the back, so I felt like there needed to be something crispy in there. Then throughout the whole thing I got this vision of those old school chocolate covered cherries. Dripping out oozy cherriness- the silky smooth voice that was kind of hidden in there, but it started out with that dark chocolate feeling to it. I didn't want a cloying sweet cherry, because the voice wasn't cloying sweet.
That's why I didn't go with a super sweet cherry in the middle- it's a play on that. I went with a cherry jelly, and I wanted it to have a little sourness to it. Not that the voice was sour, but for a little variety of flavor, since there were other instruments going on in the background, and other sounds. I cooked the cherries in balsamic with brown sugar so that there was more of a dark cherry flavor, with remnants of the balsamic kind of in the background. I wanted to capture all those little pieces in the music in one bite. You start out with that crisp dark chocolate, and then there's that sweet cherry, and then there's something else in there. I wanted to layer in all those little bits of what was going on.
There are so many layers of sound in that piece, and it's cool that you’re really thinking about translating that into layers of flavor.
And there's also a layer of ganache that has toasted quinoa in there, and that was the percussion plus more of the darker, bassier sounds, that kind of formed a backnote to the whole piece. With the voice and the higher percussion being about the cherry part of it.
Do you generally think of flavor as being on a scale like that? The way you're talking about flavor and sound makes me want to hear more about your thinking.
I did say that out loud, didn't I? I think there is- yes. I think that sourness kind of comes in at a high note, sweetness is kind of a high note too. A lot of the bassier notes- that's where umami and other grounding flavors kind of are. Now that I'm thinking about it, those grounding, foundational flavors are the ones you tend to talk about when you describe a dish. And those are those bassier notes and the percussion line.
And where does bitterness fit?
Interesting question- because this was a fairly bitter chocolate, but dark and silky smooth were what I was really going for here. Not really for the bitter note. How does bitter fit into that scale? When I think about a nice hoppy beer, how would I equate that with a sound? That bitterness is kind of a guitar solo. The bitterness is kind of- I don't want to say screechy, but it's not the rhythm guitar. It's the lead guitar, that's putting in the notes that help you identify the song. You tap along to the rhythm guitar, but you identify it by whatever the lead guitar is doing. So I think that's where bitter falls in, because it's kind of the identifier of where things stand out.
I always think of bitterness as definitely circulating through your taste buds more, somehow being multi note.
Yeah, and I think that bitterness is often a signature. When I think of bitter things, I think of beers, tonics, chocolate, coffee. When you're drinking coffee, the bitterness is definitely its key identifier. I think that bitterness kind of lingers. But in the piece I listened to, there wasn't bitterness in the voice or anything like that. I really wasn't going for the bitterness of the chocolate. I was going for the darkness. Maybe the mysterious part of the piece is where the bitterness is coming from.
What else did you feel when you listened to the piece?
The words themselves were not what really stood out to me, it was the very sultriness of her voice. It's just a super sexy song, so that was another reason why I went with chocolate. Chocolate is something super sexy.
There's so much suggestion in both of those. There's something very seductive about chocolate, and there's something very seductive about the song too.
It's super foxy.
It's foxy, it's dark and sexy. When I closed my eyes I could picture like a smoky lounge. And I actually thought about trying to infuse smoke into some part of this, but smoke is really hard to put into something that stays around as a flavor. It just becomes extremely bitter.
When you taste this now, what do you think it telegraphs?
I think it is that sexy surprise. When you're going through a box of chocolates you're kind of looking at it and thinking- to quote some Forrest Gump- what's gonna be inside of that thing? There's the multiple flavors going on. The thing that hits you the most is the cherry, but as you take it in there are so many other flavors in there.
Do you have any advice for someone else doing this, now that you’ve done this twice?
To compare my two responses, the first one I did was off something visual, so I answered with something visual. This time, maybe it's just because music is more about feelings for me, but it became less about trying to figure out what she was saying or replicating each of those elements. It was more about what it felt like. I got less literal. I think this one was actually easier- it was more of a visceral reaction. It was really fun. I always end up doing something that's beyond my usual boundaries.
[Editor’s Note: If you would like to experience these flavors yourself, Kimi’s recipe can be found here.]
Call Number: C7MU | C10FD.ceCho
Kimi Ceridon is a food-lover with a background in technology. She combines her talents to create great food experiences with a bit of science and engineering. She holds a Masters in Gastronomy and Chef's Certificate from Boston University as well as Masters in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. She left her cubicle to pursue a multi-faceted (read:confused and torturous) life as a writer, personal chef, culinary instructor, event planner and try-anythinger who loves to ride a motorcycle, get outdoors and urban homestead. Follow along with her blog about "Cooking & Confessions from a Midlife Crisis" at www.noreturnticket.kceridon.com