An Ode to Pesto and Opera

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The other day, I pulled out one of my recipe books to make pesto as I have dozens of times before, but this time I noticed anew the cover and the title of the book: Dining and the Opera in Manhattan.

The brainchild of cellist and author Sharon O’ Connor, this recipe book is but one in her series of 30 other Menus and Music collections. Previously, O’Connor founded the San Francisco String Quartet, which was in existence for sixteen years, performing in the Garden Court of San Francisco’s Palace Hotel.

I sometimes listen to music while I cook, but I especially like soothing classical music while I’m eating. Not surprisingly, an online article by Elizabeth Scott, Music and stress relief states:

Studies have shown that classical music in particular can help you eat less, digest better, and enjoy your food more.

Notice I said “soothing” classical music. There is no doubt many classical pieces are intended to, and quite effective in stirring emotions. While I appreciate and admire the passion in many of Beethoven’s works for example, I don’t necessarily want to listen to his music when I’m eating. Like Lucy Honeychurch in A Room With a View, Beethoven can make me feel peevish. I have also never enjoyed, and in fact shy away from, eating in bars or eateries that have loud music.

The pesto recipe that I make frequently is from the Dallas-based Sfuzzi restaurant. There used to be a location in Manhattan, but I don’t think it’s there anymore. I’ve never been there; in fact when my husband gave me the book and CD as a present, we were still living in Boston. What I love about the recipe is the perfect proportion of ingredients and the thick consistency. Other recipes I’d tried invariably yielded thin and oily sauces that were not as flavorful. This recipe also inspired me to find and use freshly ground pepper. (My favorite place to get freshly ground pepper is from the spice racks of BuonItalia in Chelsea Market.)

The CD is a wonderful hour-long compilation of opera arias from La Traviata and Turandot to Gianni Schicchi, Rigoletto and The Magic Flute. But I’ve always thought the aria on the CD that would best complement pesto—the perfect adornment to summer pasta—is Summertime, from Porgy and Bess.

What has been your experience with food and music? Do you listen to specific music when you are cooking or eating dinner at home? Please share below!

Photo credit: Flusel

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