Image by Wikimedia Commons by Freekorps
You know Steve Albini as the pioneering founder and frontman of such disturbing post-hardcore punk bands as Big Black, Rapeman, and Shellac. You also know him as the in-demand producer of albums by such excellent artists as the Pixies, Nirvana, Cheap Trick, Mogwai, The Dirty Three, The Breeders, P.J. Harvey… the list goes ever on… Albini’s role as a producer—of bands both high profile and totally obscure—is legendary in rock circles, as is his curmudgeonliness, exacting personal standards, highly opinionated commentary, and exceptional musical taste.
You may not know, however, about Albini’s exceptional culinary tastes, as documented on his food blog, “Mariobatalivoice: What I made Heather for dinner.” Maintained between 2011 and 2013, the running commentary chronicles Albini’s attempts at dishes such as “Li-hing-rubbed torpedo with weird huauzontle and diced peppers” and “aged short ribs with fennel on saffron potato puree.” From the looks of things, Albini is a fine cook, as well as decent food photographer—if those are his photos. His blog description suggests they may be the work of Heather (that is, his wife, Heather Whinna).
A photo of Saffron Potato Cashew Pancakes from mariobatalivoice.
Albini’s also a very entertaining writer. No surprise there, “as anyone who's seen his back-in-the-day fanzine rants can attest,” wrote Tom Breihan at Pitchfork in 2011. Typically understated and idiosyncratic, Albini writes, “I don’t give quantities or exact recipes because I eyeball and taste everything like anybody who cooks a lot…. We’re not ninjas. Also, some of this food may not turn out that great, so replicating it would be pointless. I have also successfully cooked for our cats.” Nonetheless, even without proportions and exact steps spelled out, “if you cook, you should be able to figure out how to make any of these meals.”
The name, he tells us, “comes from the way I bring [Heather] food in bed and present it to her using an imitation of Mario Batali’s voice from TV.” You’ll probably find your own brand of presentation, but all of the dishes look both challenging and totally worth the effort. To read about Albini’s adventures in the culinary exotic, check out the archives of his now-dormant food blog here.