If you haven’t heard the old-school indie goodness that is Generationals, there’s no time like the present. I spoke with guitarist Ted Joyner, New Orleans native and the self-professed “least food-obsessed” of the three. That said, he’s still pretty food-obsessed and took a regular Good Food Rocks question to the rest of the band, who then brought it to an entirely new level. What’s on the Gold Silver Diamond sandwich? Oh, just fried local speckled trout and tangy mustard-spiked coleslaw with raw onion and tarragon aioli. Just the best thing ever, that drummer Eric Rogers actually made, then sent us a huge folder of food porn to salivate over. Seriously guys, that’s a beautiful sandwich.
And speaking of other things done well by the Big Easy, we talked Vietnamese, frozen Brain Obliterators and G&G. That’s grits and grillades, something you’ll want to become intimately familiar with.
What are three things that are always in your fridge?
Capers, because I do a lot of cream cheese and lox-type things, some leftovers I’ve forgotten about, hopefully some Gatorade which is kind of the go-to hangover cure, “yellow” flavor. In my freezer I have this stuffed chicken with different kinds of dressing like shrimp or crawfish. You ge them in Lafayette, LA, it’s perfect for people like me who don’t really cook and it always comes out perfectly. Frozen stuffed chicken sounds like it would be terrible, but it’s impossible to screw up.
What’s the best thing you cook?
I’ve been wanting to try my hand at the Asian thing. I tried making pad thai, and just having fish sauce around was scary for me because I was afraid it was going to smell. I want to mess around with fish sauce, though. You see it a lot in Vietnamese food, which I love. Korean too, so I say I’m going to start cooking but it seems like a dangerous ingredient to have in the house.
Just…use a very steady hand when pouring. What kind of influence does growing up in New Orleans have on what you consider comfort food?
I grew up in New Orleans, which is definitely the South, but you don’t feel as much of a connection to Southern food. A lot of the staple country food, fried chicken and collards, that sort of stuff, is intoxicating to me. The older I get, the more deeply rooted it is in my general food nostalgia. New Orleans is such a great place to eat decadent food that makes you fat. I have friends who casually just whip up some of the best stuff. You can get gumbo at a restaurant, but nothing’s better than gumbo made by your friends. So much of New Orleans’ food connects to that social dimension. Like grits and grillades. A grandmother with a Cajun accent is going to make some really good G & G. Same in Spain, we learned on tour, when you’re at someone’s house for a family meal prepared by non-food professionals and you’re all sharing is the best comfort food.
What are your five favorite places to eat in New Orleans right now.
1. Donald Link’s restaurant Peche; he’s the Cochon guy. He opened another place. Cochon is pork-oriented, Peche is seafood-oriented. It’s this big, loud, clamory sort of place with high ceilings and it’s impossible to get a table these days, so grab a seat at the bar and have some oysters. I love gulf oysters and I’m glad they’re there, but sometimes it’s fun to try oysters that are not right in our backyard. Ours are so huge. Sometimes I like them smaller and more contained. The oysters I grew up with were about dumping sauce on them. Peche has a wider variety.
2. Stein’s deli. It’s owned and run by an endearingly grumpy Philly guy called Dan Stein who moved down to New Orleans. I don’t think it’s actually Kosher but I go for the pastrami and I love it. When I’m back in town and drive by, I always get that.
3. The Joint, a barbecue place that does Carolina-style. I get the brisket sandwich on my heart attack days.
4. This Korean barbecue place called Korea House. I love, I really really love, the tofu kimchi appetizer. It’s spicy as hell and delicious, you drink that Korean beer and by the time your main course comes out you’re on fire and drunk and just start throwing meat on that thing. That is a good time.
5. At a certain point you hit Vietnamese town, which is crazy and awesome and I love a place called Pho Tau Bay. Every place has their thing they do really well, so people have allegiances to specific places. There’s an insane Vietnamese bakery if you start driving East from the city that has great meat pies. I love how they feel home in this environment — there’s actually a really cool story about how either the boats we use to get around in the swamps were designed by a Vietnamese guy. It’s pretty fascinating and I’m very thankful for it. Dong Fong is another bakery attached to a restaurant known for their crepes. Once I had the chance to go to a friend’s house and her Vietnamese grandmother made us the most incredible crepes. So yeah, definitely get some Vietnamese food while you’re down there.
What are your thoughts on those frozen daiquiris you can just carry around the city with you?
Being a grown-up now, I look back on things that never even occurred to me were peculiar. I say it completely sincerely, that’s something that was as normal as anything else, everyone had them, then you get to a certain age, leave town and realize you can’t walk or drive around with an alcoholic drink. I personally love it but it does get to be a sugar issue. There are definitely days where I’m down to drink one all day. I love the flavors with great names like Brain Obliterator, these violent names that describe how this frozen drink is going to destroy your memory abilities. There’s always the option to add on another shot, too, and because it’s so fruity you forget how much alcohol you’re taking in until it’s completely too late.
What’s the hands-down best food experience you’ve had while on tour?
Spain was life-changing for me. It really wasn’t even a proper tour, just a few shows, but we happened upon all these people who showed us how to do it right. We were on a hilltop overlooking these vineyards and our friends brought out pulpo, which is octous. Every time I’ve had it in my life, it’s been chewy. This changed the game for me forever, it made me appreciate why you would want to boil up an octopus in the first place. Texturally it was completely way better than anything I’d had octopus-wise.
If it’s 3 a.m. what are you probably eating?
Something disgusting. At 3 a.m., all bets are off. When it gets late and I have booze in my system, I’m happy to just completely destroy myself, it could be any litany of gross things. Not to disparage fast food companies, but I could write books and books of disgusting nights. The other night we went to Buffalo Wild Wings after a show. We got to the hotel and it was right across the street. As we were walking over to it we were like, “this is a bad idea,” then a gravitational force pulled us inside and we ordered wings.
Who’s another musician you’ve worked with who’s super into food?
Both other guys in our band, [drummer] Eric Rogers and [bassist] Ben Jones live for food. More often than not I’m picking up notes from them. Both of them cook a lot. I love food and I love blowing all my money going out to eat but I don’t cook a lot and I should enter a phase of life where I do. It’s extremely useful to have them on tour. I need to watch them.
Say you’re playing a great show. You see a chef in the wings holding a huge tray of food. Who’s the chef and what’s on that platter that makes you stop playing?
Probably the old woman who’s the matriarch of Korea House with a huge thing of that spicy tofu kimchi. And she’s just kind of eying me down…like she knows.
What’s the most important thing on your tour rider?
We don’t have anything on there except a bottle of Jameson. That’s all we really need.
Check out Generationals’ new album, Alix, out now.
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