Friday, March 28, 2014

Molotov -- "Apocalypsh*t" (1999)

A veces soy obsceno
A veces soy corrupto
Puedo beber cerveza y comer mientras eructo

Bill Buford's 2006 book, Heat:  An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany, is one of the best books I've read in years.

The book had its genesis at a birthday dinner that Buford -- who was the fiction editor for the New Yorker -- hosted for novelist Jay McInerney.  On an impulse, Buford decided to invite celebrity chef Mario Batali, who also was a friend of McInerney.  Buford had become acquainted with Batali after seeing his "Molto Mario" show on the Food Network.  

Celebrity chef Mario Batali
Buford had planned an ambitious meal, including grilled lamb.  As Josh Getlin wrote in his Los Angeles Times review of Heat, the evening didn't turn out as Buford had planned:

[T]he food was a disaster.  Batali minced no words upon his arrival, calling Buford "a moron" for placing the cooked meat in tin foil (the lamb continues to cook in the foil, he explained).  The stocky, red-headed chef quickly pushed his host aside and took over the cooking.  With a flourish, he put pieces of lardo -- cured pork fat -- on guests' tongues.  He drank five bottles of wine, danced with all the women and ended the party at 2:30 a.m. by playing air guitar to Neil Young's "Southern Man."

Buford was smitten. 

Batali invited Buford to spend some time as his "kitchen bitch" at Batali's best-known restaurant, Babbo, which is an Italian (not Italian-American) restaurant in New York City's Greenwich Village.  Buford then wrote a lengthy profile of Batali for the New Yorker.  But Buford's time at Babbo didn't satisfy his craving to learn more about the world of high cuisine.

Bill Buford and Mario Batali at Babbo
Getlin explains what happened next:

Quitting his day job, Buford decided to write a book about Babbo.  He spent 14 more months with Batali.  Then he grew restless and moved with his wife to Tuscany, apprenticing himself to a charismatic and eccentric butcher.  At their first meeting, Dario Cecchini greeted Buford with a booming recitation from the opening of Dante's "Divine Comedy," which Buford translates as "Midway through the road of life, I found myself in a dark wood, on a lost road." Was he also lost, Buford wondered about himself?

When he returned to New York, Buford went to the Greenwich Village farmers' market and ordered a whole pig from one of the farmers so he could put his knowledge of butchery to good use.  Getlin continues:

[O]n a blazingly hot summer day, Bill Buford was riding a scooter through Greenwich Village with a freshly slaughtered 225-pound pig strapped to the rack.  Its hoofs were dangling to one side, the pig's head to the other.  [The people he passed] shot him hostile looks as he puttered by, but Buford's biggest problem was logistical.  Blood was beginning to pool in the clear plastic sheets covering the pig.  How would he fit the carcass into his building's small elevator? 

Bill Buford with his long-suffering
wife, Jessica Green
The book ends with Buford telling his wife that he needs to go back to Italy and spend a few more months with the man who taught him to butcher a pig so he can learn how to butcher a cow.  I don't have the book handy, so I'll paraphrase her response to him: "HAVE YOU LOST YOUR F*CKING MIND?"

Buford has apparently toyed with the idea of opening his own restaurant, but decided to go back to New Yorker and write about food.  He is working on a book about French cuisine.  

Babbo's Sicilian-lifeguard-style calamari
I ate at Babbo on a recent trip to New York City.  I had an extraordinary meal (an appetizer of grilled octopus and an entrée of calamari served "Sicilian lifeguard style" -- click here if you'd like the recipe).

Guess who else dined at Babbo's that night?  None other than Aaron Paul, the co-star of the critically acclaimed television series, Breaking Bad, which just completed a five-season run on AMC. 

A week earlier, I wouldn't have known Aaron Paul from Aaron Burr or Aaron Rodgers . . . or Erin Moran, for that matter.

Erin Moran and Scott Baio
But a few days before I hopped on the train for New York City, I had checked out the first season of Breaking Bad from the library and watched a few episodes of the show.  So I recognized Paul, who portrayed Jesse Pinkham, a young (and clueless) meth entrepreneur and ne'er-do-well.

Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman
I found out later that Paul was in town to promote his new movie on "Live With Kelly and Michael."  (I don't know about you, but I miss Regis so much!)

That movie, which is titled Need for Speed, stars Paul as a street racer determined to avenge the death of a friend at the hands of a rival racer.  It is based on a series of video games, and its producers no doubt have high hopes that it will turn into a franchise on the order of the Fast & Furious series of movies.

Molotov is a Mexican band that sings and raps in Spanish and English.  Their lyrics have been described as "risqué, playful, and frequently aggressive."  ("Risqué" is quite the understatement.)  

Molotov's songs are often very political.  If I had to compare them to an American group, I'd say they remind me of Rage Against the Machine.

Our featured song is the title track from Molotov's 1999 album of the same name.  It is featured in the climactic scene from Breaking Bad's first episode.

Click here to view the highlights from that episode.  You'll hear a brief excerpt from "Apocalypsh*t" beginning at 6:10.

I can't read Spanish, so I went to Google Translate to get a translation of the song's lyrics.  Here's what I got for the lines quoted above:

Sometimes I'm obscene 
Sometimes I'm corrupt 
I can eat while drinking beer and belching

I'm not sure about that last line.  It's looks to me lie this would be a more accurate translation:

I can drink beer and eat while belching

Here's "Apocalypsh*t":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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