Recently I got to talk to Avi Zahner-Isenberg of Avi Buffalo and he’s even more of a meat lover than I thought! Stream his latest single Memories of you while you read the interview:
When you’re on your European tour do you bring anything from The States, food-wise?
No, not really. I miss the feeling of cooking at home, though. Whenever I get the chance to cook I try to do that. It’s really therapeutic to cook. We’re gonna stay at our manager’s house in London. She’s a really good Italian chef but I’m gonna make everybody hamburgers. That’s kind of my specialty. I’ve gotten pretty good at making a few different experimental hamburgers so I’m gonna try and introduce that. That will be the California gift, cheese burgers, that’s a big thing out there. There’s even a record label that started out there that’s called Burger Records which is really weird. I don’t listen to most of the stuff that’s on there but yeah, Californian hamburgers are the best.
There’s nothing on your rider either?
Oh, on the rider we just ask for veggies and hummus and pita, just for incidental sandwich making type of stuff and juice, avocados. You know whatever’s around. I like having ginger and honey, with a tea cause that’s good for my voice. That’s what I’m drinking now. It just warms your throat up. Ginger is good for your digestion system. And honey’s good for your throat too.
I don’t know how to phrase this into a question but I was thinking of ”Little pieces of bacon”. It was the only thing I could think of related to food on your first album.
It was this woman I was into, she had little lips and it seemed to make sense to describe them as thin strips of bacon. And there’s a new song on the new album that mentions Cheese Balls.
And cherry pie.
Yeah and cherry pie, too. Those are two equally delicious things. And I’m trying to think of other foods that’s on the new record. Hm. Yeah, there’s quite a bit of food everywhere. I saw the band Cibo Matto the other day, you’d love them. The name means ”Crazy food” in Italian, and a lot of their songs is about food. They have a song called Birthday cake and another called Know your chicken. I saw them live the other day with an amazing guitarist Nels Cline, he’s the main DJ-woman Yuka Honda’s husband. He was just shredding it up while this other woman Miho Hatori raps about food. It’s a big thing for them. They really love food. They’d be a good group to interview if they come through Europe! They’re real food experts.
I had dinner at Yuka and Nels’s house the other night and she made this really really good duck with scallops and fish together with rice, like a paella thing. They’re always posting funny food pics online, #cibomattofood with notes on what’s good here and here all over the world. I use to not take it so seriously but that’s actually really important. I learned that from Nels at a festival Wilco was curating (Nels plays guitar with Wilco) how important it is to eat while on tour, to go find food you enjoy. It’s so enjoyable it’s worth getting really inspired and excited about, it’s a really intense thing. And you get inspired from traveling the world so when you get home you can use these influences in your cooking. The blessing to travel the world and play music and try food from all over the world means that I’ll have some European fusion influence that I wouldn’t have had otherwise to cooking. So that’s exciting, for sure. Just to see what’s normal cause it’s totally different, the kind of stuff they eat out here than in the US. Today there was herring and salmon and a lot more than you’d find in the US. In the US there would be a waffle maker and some shitty muffins, corn flakes and it’s never that good. Something like this you get all these weird flavors to experiment with. Today I made a sandwich out of brie cheese, bacon and fish and peppers and it was really good.
Fish and bacon?
Yeah, I put the fish together with the bacon and it felt like it would work and it did work, it worked really well. It was delicious. Extra salty. Maybe that was an American influence that Europeans don’t do? You usually don’t put the bacon on fish and I actually don’t know much about people putting bacon on fish in the US but I went for it and it was good. Definitely.
What’s your favorite fruit?
I think Mango. My first word was banana, though. So that was my favorite fruit growing up.
Do you have a recipe you wanna share with us?
Yeah, I can tell you about the burgers that I make. I sometimes get bison meat, a buffalo burger. I make a patty out of it and I don’t season that, I cook it, usually with sometimes bacon and then some Gruyére cheese and then I take teriyaki sauce and I put it on kale and spinach in a pan and I sautée those greens together and then I put that on top, sometimes with avocado and garlic. Like chopped up garlic, caramelize it with the meat. Just throw that all on the burger and that’s really really good. With mayonaise or ketchup or relish or Dijon mustard. That’s a really tasty burger. Try it.
I’m kind of a meat specialist, I like cooking meat even though it’s not healthy and I wish I was a vegetarian but I just really like the taste of meat and I like how creative you can get with marinades.
That’s pretty much all I got, I think.
Well thanks for doing it, glad to get to do a food interview! It’s one of my favorite things for sure. I like duck too, I forgot to mention the duck.
You were going to London, right? You should check out Duck & Waffle. Their specialty is a waffle with duck on it.
Wow, that sounds great. Do you know about chicken waffles? In the US chicken waffles are really popular, it’s like a soul food – chicken and waffles, but duck and waffle, I’m in, I’ll look it up. I had duck on pizza once. I like duck in general. It’s a fun meat. I’ve never cooked with duck myself, which is weird. Once my sister made a Thanksgiving duck that she cooked in kosher wine, which was kind of cool, just like nasty sweet wine but it worked as an amazing marinade. She soaked it for a really long time and I think baked it, it came out like a bright purple duck and it was so sweet and tender and it was really really good. It was well done, it was Manischewitz duck.