Blues Songs Are Also Down-Home Recipes All but one of the fourteen songs on the Blues Cookbook music CD double as recipes for down-home southern and country dishes. The remaining song may well be the world's only love song dedicated to cookware. Created by award-winning food writer and composer Elliot Essman, Blues Cookbook is a CD of fourteen blues songs that all have to do with cooking and food. Written in a variety of urban and traditional blues styles, the songs in Blues Cookbook are filled with cooking advice for such down-home favorites as chicken-fried steak, cornbread, okra, sweet potato pie, pan-fried chicken, collard greens, barbecue, biscuits, and more. "I've been playing blues guitar, piano and harmonica since I was a teenager," says Essman. "After recording the song Gumbo and realizing I'd belted out what amounted to a musical recipe, I developed the full menu. Southern cuisine was a natural. You can't very well write a credible blues song about wilted field greens over pan-seared porcini mushrooms in an aged balsamic vinaigrette." One number, Southern Fried Catfish, done in gospel style, provides a complete recipe for the dish in less than a minute. Other songs, like Pralines and Rice and Beans, use styles reminiscent of John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters, taking their sweet bluesy time to meld all the flavors. Hip hop style Piggy Food covers the full range of pork offerings, from bacon to barbecue, and even winds up speculating in pork belly futures. Whole Mess of Greens and Okra add some healthy vegetables to the mix. Perhaps the most unusual song on Blues Cookbook is a unique "paean to pans." His audio engineer told Essman that Cast Iron Pans was a true love song, dedicated to cookware rather than to a sweetheart. "People love cast iron," Essman insists. "They pass well-seasoned pots and pans down as heirlooms. My girlfriend understands this and is not jealous." Essman is a blue ribbon graduate of the Baking and Pastry program at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. He was nominated for the James Beard Foundation Journalism Award in 2005 for his food and beverage writing.
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