The Calgary Folk Music Festival is coming up this weekend and while we try not to be too Calgary-centric around these parts, this four-day-long festival is so packed with fantastic artists, it’s hard not to spend a week talking about the artists (and the food) that make up this special community-minded festival. We’ve already talked to a number of the key artists playing this year about food (Adam Cohen, Kim Churchill, Oh Susanna, Reuben and the Dark), but we thought we’d pack a couple more in before the fest starts on Thursday. Today we have the much beloved Canadian singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist Hawksley Workman. A man of great passion, it’s not surprising that Hawksley loves food.
I’ve been a Hawksley fan since his first album For Him and the Girls landed on my desk in 1999 — his romantic, cabaret-style sound didn’t jibe with anything else going on in the Canadian music scene at the time and he’s continued to defy expectations and continue to produce deliciously brave and off-beat albums. His latest, Old Cheetah, was released earlier this summer, and I imagine he’ll be playing some of its songs at the Folk Festival and other dates this summer. Here’s what Hawksley had to say about food:
Rolling Spoon: Are you much of a cook, or are you more of an eater? If you do cook, what are some of your specialties?
Hawksley Workman: I’m a a bit of both… But I’m not the main cook in the house. My real strength in the kitchen is “re-purposing” left-overs in a creative way.
When you go on the road do you look forward to the prospect of eating in different cities or is it one long parade of deli trays and bad sandwiches?
Eating on the road is very important. Sometimes it’s the only comfort you’ll get. I just despise wasting a meal by eating garbage, and often just don’t eat if it means eating at a terrible chain restaurant. Planned eating is very important when travelling!
If you do have time to explore food while you’re on the road, what are some of your favourite cities to visit?
Absolutely it’s important. Having toured for 16 years now, we keep a running list of old faves and new restaurants to try. I did a four stand in st. John’s, Nfld, a few years back, partly because i wanted to try some of the incredible new restaurants that had popped up in that city. Obviously Paris is a strong city for eating. Thanks to Mounties, i spend a lot of time in Vancouver and that city has ruined sushi for me… I don’t eat it in any other city anymore.
How important is it to have the right food when you’re in the studio? Does what you eat affect the outcome of the recording?
Eating good food is an important way to respect and honour yourself and the community of people you surround yourself with. Eating is community in the studio. A time to stop and reflect and recharge.
What were some of your favourite foods growing up? Are they still some of your favourites?
My grandma made everything great back then. Good old fashioned church cooking. A mayo heavy, egg-y potato salad is as good today as it was in 1986.
What is absolutely always in your fridge?
What is your favourite kind of pie?
Do you have a recipe you’d like to share with us?
Re-fried rice noodle mac and cheese… Re-fried in bacon fat of course.
I also love the idea of re-purposing leftovers — it reduces waste, saves money, and makes life easier for whoever is the designated cook in your home. One thing we often have leftover in our house is mashed potatoes (because I am so fearful that I will make too few and not get any, I always make way too much), which can easily be made into mashed potato pancakes. Just add an egg and about 1/3 cup flour (and, if you’re feeling restless, a handful of grated cheddar cheese) to about 3 cups of potatoes (if you have more or less, adjust accordingly), drop them by the large spoonful into a pan of hot oil, smoosh into patties and fry for a few minutes on each side until they’re nice and brown and the egg has set. Serve them like traditional pancakes with apple sauce and sour cream or alongside some grilled meat (we like ours with Bratwurst). Perfect!
Enjoy with this song from Hawksley’s new album (which was filmed in the kitchen!):