Lydia Lunch performs, utters, radiates, and yes, consumes intensity. Whether it’s in the form of screeching vocals, convulsive stage antics, or in this case, vigorous flavors, everything the woman does is full-fucking-force.
On that note, she has written… a cookbook. It’s called The Need to Feed: Recipes for Developing a Healthy Obsession with Deeply Satisfying Foods. And it’s the only cookbook I’ve ever purchased… or read… or, let’s face it, probably held thus far in my life.
“I gorge on life in the spirit of unrepentant hedonism. I embrace pleasure as an inalienable pagan right and employ it as the ultimate weapon in my ongoing rebellion against false virtue. I seek to feed and feast upon the most succulent delights I can wrap my lips around, be it flora, fauna, flesh, fish, foul, or pharmaceuticals. I wholeheartedly encourage you to do the same.”
It sort of makes sense when you consider the origins of Lunch’s surname. Soon after she moved to NYC as a pent-up, fucked-up teenager, she started hanging around the dudes from Suicide and Mink Deville. She snagged a job as a bartender at a strip joint, and would steal food from the kitchen then bring it to her friends the next day in the form of sack lunches, thus earning the name, “Lydia Lunch.”
Not that we’d expect any less, but The Need to Feed is a little different from your average cookbook. It’s more rebellious, aggressive, and it’s extremely sexy. It features beautiful and morbid illustrations, and explores themes that Lunch has confronted throughout her entire career: the intersection of desire, pleasure, gluttony, and revenge. A sampling of chapter titles includes: This Is Going to Hurt You (“ass-kicking, blood-pumping, tongue-swelling recipes for the masochist in your life”), Do Me a Quickie (“outrageously quick pick-me-ups for the chance encounter or late-night visitor”), and The Killer Inside Me (“only carnivores need apply”).
The recipes are equally provocative. “Sacrificial Lamb,” “Eat My Peach Before It Crumbles” and “I Said Jerk that Chicken” are some of my personal favorites. On the other hand, some of the recipes sound totally Martha Stewart-approved: “Red Quinoa Tabouli,” “Mango Matcha Smoothie” and “White Bean Dip with Fresh Rosemary,” for example.
“If it’s hot, I want to stick it in my mouth. That’s just the way I am.”
It’s kind of amazing that Lunch and I actually have extremely similar palates. Ask anyone who knows me what I like to eat and the answer is, “Absurdly spicy foods. And Greek… especially if it’s absurdly spicy.” Interestingly, that also describes a good deal of the recipes in The Need to Feed.
The other fantastic aspect of this book is the music. The music, you ask? Yes, Lunch has included, for an immersive pleasure experience, recommendations of what to listen to while eating certain types of food. It’s fucking amazing. Of course you should listen to Ennio Morricone while making pasta, and Iggy Pop as you cook beef. Other solid recs include: Janis Joplin, Can, Goldfrapp, and an Ethiopian compilation.
“Eating well is the best revenge. It is a rebellion against the ubiquitous mass marketing of junk-filled foods that flood the airways, bottleneck the highways, and have transformed America into a festering fast-food nation of super-sized junk food junkies, doped up on dioxins, picked with preservatives, flying high on fructose, and hooked to the sugar titty of modern convenience.”
Now for the negative: Well, the obvious criticism is: who the hell is the audience for this book? Foodies? Not likely. I personally loved the twisted-poetic style, but I feel like a lot of regular folks would be confused or turned off by it. So is it a book for Lunch fans? Perhaps, but I’m guessing only the most HXC of us are super-into this.
My only other criticism is that The Need to Feed is glaringly lacking a chapter on cocktails. Seriously. WHY would she leave that out? My only hope is that she is planning on an entire book devoted to the art of booze in the future.
Nevertheless, The Need to Feed is blazing victory, in my opinion. Artistic, experimental, practical, and classically Lunchian with it’s anti-authority, irreverent attitude. And, less importantly, it includes some very unique and seemingly delicious recipes. Buy it.
MAJOR, MAJOR Confession: I still haven’t cooked anything from it yet. But reading The Need to Feed is the only thing this world has presented to me that has even slightly influenced me to reconsider my, “Cooking? That’s what men are for!” mantra.