Touring musicians have a great gig. Rock and roll! It’s doubly great when they’re interested in exploring the international culinary world. We do realize some bands subsist solely on Taco Bell and Coke Zero. Shame on them! There’s Hatch chile to sample in New Mexico. Pappy Van Winkle in Kentucky. Doppelbock outside Hamburg. Tortas on the California-Mexico border. In Good Food, Rocks, we track down a band member serious about their grub — and who has held a job in the food industry too.
Moroccan-born rapper French Montana is the founder and CEO of Cocaine City Records and, as his business card implies, is into the finer things in life — which includes his choice of lunch on a January afternoon when we join him in a Midtown Manhattan recording studio. He’s insisted on ordering lunch for Food Republic and a crew of producers and record executives, including Bad Boy President Harve Pierre and frequent collaborator, the Baddest Bitch Trina. The crew has gathered to help mix French’s forthcoming album, Excuse My French (out May 21). After watching him strategically drop a couple shotgun blast tracks into a song featuring Snoop Dogg (Lion as of late), a delivery from Southern comfort staple Soul Fixins’ materializes. “This is the best in the city,” he says while searching for a plastic container of potato salad. There are a few tense seconds when the plastic container does not appear. Thankfully, mercifully for the assistant in charge of the ordering, the salad is in da studio. Which leads to the first part of our long talk about food.
You’ve got a little bit of money now…
We’ve got a lot of money. Nah, I’m just joking [laughs].
Are you eating better now than you used to?
I always ate good, because I love food. I had my mother making food for me when I was young, so once I stopped living with her, I started eating outside. But I eat pretty good.
Are you super particular about of what you’re eating when you’re recording?
You gotta eat good. This potato salad – you could frame it in glass and hang it up.
What did you eat growing up while growing up Morocco?
Lions, tigers, giraffe neck.
Giraffe neck. Is that like salmon collar?
I am a big seafood lover.
What’s some seafood you can get in Morocco?
In Morocco, they smother the seafood in couscous. But I was never a big couscous fan.
You’ve got to be the first dude from Morocco to say he’s not a couscous fan.
Yeah. I’m not a big couscous fan. There are some Jamaicans that don’t like oxtail. I’ll eat all seafood except for like oysters. I also ate a lot of chicken, lamb and steak.
You grew up in Casablanca? Is there a restaurant scene there?
Yeah, definitely. They have shish kabobs on metal sticks, which is typical of Moroccan food. Sometimes they might put out one big plate for everybody and people will dip the bread in oil and eat it with meat. They call it “breaking bread.”
So then you moved to the Bronx?
Yeah. East Tremont.
Tell me about the food there.
Kennedy Fried Chicken.
Was that the first time you had American-style fried chicken?
There’s no such thing as American-style chicken. There are all sorts of people making chicken in the Bronx. You’ve got fried chicken here, curry chicken there. All cultures cook their food differently.
It all comes together in neighborhoods like East Tremont.
I think that’s what makes it beautiful. In New York, there are so many different foods that you’re always going to be eating. In Morocco, it’s kind of just Moroccan food. You have to go to a restaurant downtown somewhere.
When you moved here, what was a food that really changed your perspective?
Everything! One day you want pizza, the next day you want Jamaican food, the day after that you want seafood. You can get tacos, Mexican food…
Do you like tacos?
What are your spots in New York City?
I love Del Frisco’s. I love Sammy’s on City Island. I actually went there yesterday. That island has nothing but seafood.
What were you doing there yesterday? It was like 15 degrees.
I bought a crab lobster feast. I had someone in town who had never had it, so I took him over there. We still had about half of the plate left. That crab’s bigger than you [laughs].
You ever order a Murder Burger at First Way Deli in East Tremont?
No. I always go to a Jamaican spot on the corner called Flavor. And I used to eat the steaks from right there on Webster. Every time I come from the club, I always stop there and get a steak. They cook the shit out of some steak.
What do you like to eat real late night after you do a show at a club?
I like eating the steak sandwiches they had – they used to toast the bread and then load it with steak and cheese. There was always a line outside. If I’m downtown, I’ll probably get some halal food. I don’t like eating breakfast leaving clubs. I like eating regular food. I am not really a big breakfast fan at clubs.
Have you ever had Greek yogurt? That shit will change your life.
No but I’m gonna try it out. I try everything one time.
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