The Dodos’ Private Passion

The band shares their love of cooking

It’s time for another obsession session as we explore the anorak within. This Month: Meric Long from US trio The Dodos lets loose his inner chef.

“I grew up spending a lot of time with my Mom in the kitchen just watching what was going on. Nobody ever taught me the basics, but when I found myself working in kitchens later on I would often mentally go back and think of the things my Mom would do, especially when I would be panicking, cos I had no idea what I was doing. I’ve always been passionate about food and how to cook it, but I think I realised how obsessed I was when I started reading cook books into the wee hours nightly.”

“I remember trying to make Hollandaise sauce when I was like twelve cos it was Father’s Day and my Dad loves eggs Benedict. I went through a carton of eggs trying six times, but the sauce just kept breaking after thirty seconds of mixing in the melted butter. We ended up having eggs Benedict without the sauce, which isn’t much of a treat.”

“My favourite recipe is this stuff we called panade at the last restaurant I worked at. It’s basically cubes of stale bread that you stack in layers of Gruyère cheese and sorrel and cover in rich broth and then bake forever until it becomes like a salty, sour, gushy cake. I love things that are pickled, and sorrel kind of has that tart, vinegary thing going on without ever being pickled. I can’t really say it’s my signature dish cos I didn’t come up with it. The things I come up with are usually sort of stupid and more fun to make than cook. The last thing I came up with was a burger stuffed with blue cheese and portabella mushrooms, and then injected with red wine. There was really no point to the wine, I just wanted to use one of those meat injectors.”

“I come from a Chinese mother, so there’s a lot of freaky ingredients that a lot of gringos aren’t keen to eat. There’s this stuff called fermented tofu that comes in a jar and it looks like something from Frankenstein’s lab. It smells pretty awful and it’s salty as all hell, but I used to eat it out of the jar when I was a kid. Just a speck of that stuff will power up any dish you throw it into. I pretty much think putting something pickled in your food always makes it better as long as there’s enough fat or richness to balance it out. Lucky for me there are a million things that are pickled so the possibilities are endless.”

“I love cooking related shows like Top Chef, Iron Chef, and Anthony Bourdain. It’s insane what people are doing on those shows compared to when it was just your straightforward instructive cooking show. Instead of being told what to do in the kitchen you just get to watch chefs doing incredible stuff. I feel like the creativity that people get to witness now has totally raised the bar of what people do in their kitchens. I think Masahara Morimoto is my favourite chef on TV; every time he’s on Iron Chef he does a bunch of stuff that’s mind blowing, and I feel like he has the perfect blend of using really traditional Japanese techniques with his own wild ideas. I’d be terrified to cook with that dude and don’t think I belong anywhere near the same kitchen.”

“We’re pretty spoiled in and around San Francisco, cos there’s a ton of amazing markets to shop from that get their stuff from small farms in and around the Bay Area. I love going to Asian markets cos everything’s dirt cheap and you can get all sorts of weird crap. There’s a certain amount of pride I take in going to specifically Chinese markets and actually being able to identify most of the products there.”

“We don’t really have the means or energy to cook on tour, but Logan and I made a cooking show while recording our last record. While Phil was busy working on mixes, we had a Flip camera and made three episodes of Stackers, which I’m hoping will take off if this music thing collapses.”

“I could not live without Sriracha hot sauce. It goes good on everything, especially things that are white like cottage cheese or ranch sauce. It’s sweet, spicy, and the beautiful red colour goes really well against a backdrop of white.”

“Cooking isn’t a way for me to unwind – cooking is like music for me in that it’s another means to be focused, to perform, and ultimately please someone else. I don’t think I’m the best person to cook with cos I get sort of intense and maniacal. The unwinding comes with the face stuffing.”

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