Hit List

Written by: Paul Thompson

Primary Source: Thornapple CSA

The last two Septembers have been “food songs” month in the Thornapple blog. Truth to tell, it gives me a bit of relief from thinking up a new blog every week. Contrary to a sentiment I attributed to Doug Anderson in an entry last year, there are hundreds of food songs. I haven’t even had time to get around to the one food song (other than “Cheeseburger in Paradise”) that Anderson was able to come up with on his own. That would be Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya.” Those of you fully ensconced in the Michigan way of being may not know that jambalaya actually is a food. It’s a variation on pilaf that relies on the Louisiana spice trio of onions, peppers and celery cooked with rice in a tomato sauce. From there, almost anything goes. But jambalaya isn’t the only food in Hank Williams’ bayou classic. There’s also crawfish pie and filé gumbo. Filé is made from sassafras, once widely used in root beers but now banned by the Federal government.

But that’s a thought better served in a month when I’m actually writing blogs on food ethics, rather than trying to keep myself diverted by musings on food songs. I started out this morning thinking about Mark Knopfler’s “Ole Pigweed,” which begins with a recipe for mulligan stew. But then I remembered that we already did that, so it was back to “Jambalaya.” For those of you who, like Erin McKenna, are food song junkies, I’ll report that Bon Appétite has its own list of food songs, of which only Roy Byrd’s “Red Beans,” has been celebrated in the Thornapple Blog, though I have given some thought to the Beach Boys’ “Vegetables,” which comes in at number 16 on Bon Appétite’s top 25. Some of theirs are instrumentals, so I’m not sure I’d credit them as food songs, though they do refer to food in the title. Jazz musicians are notorious for coming up with ditties and not knowing what to call them. Then anything sitting around is fair game: “Rib Tips”, “Peanuts”, “Java”.

But then again, readers are probably still scratching their heads about Jimi Hendrix’ “Stone Free”, which in a rather stone free association we attributed to peaches earlier this month. Here’s the Thornapple short list:

  1. Pico de Gallo
  2. Homegrown Tomatoes
  3. Everybody Eats When They Come to My House
  4. The Frim Fram Sauce
  5. Watermelon Time
  6. Ole Pigweed
  7. House of Blue Light
  8. Give ‘em Cornbread
  9. Baker Shop Boogie
  10. Jambalaya
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Paul Thompson
Paul B. Thompson holds the W. K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. He formerly held positions in philosophy at Texas A&M University and Purdue University. His research has centered on ethical and philosophical questions associated with agriculture and food, and especially concerning the guidance and development of agricultural technoscience.
Paul Thompson

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