Stuff your Face
with Paul Coyote
So, yes, I like to get experimental with my food and sometimes I do get carried away … Especially and foremost on tour. There are so many new things to try, like at gas stations for example – and over the course of the last couple of years I did try a lot of new things. Most of them were actually quite enjoyable. However, some were rather questionable if not downright regrettable. I mean, who in their right mind spots a bunch of dried shrimps in a small see-thru plastic bag at a Mexican highway gas station and thinks to themselves “This looks about right, you guys are coming with me on the tour van”?
My fellow travelers cried foul at me the second I produced my snack. Several members of Maledukados and Malas Palabras attempted to discourage me from opening my new-found treasure chest of sea food delight. “Only old people” would eat “disgusting stuff” like this. But I remained proud, confident and steadfast. If not even a bit coquettish. Matt chuckled. I ripped the packaging open, freed one of these pitiful worms from its plastic prison and greedily shoved it into my mouth. It tasted salty, vaguely maritime and rotten. The sip of water I chased my novelty snack with only intensified the rather unpleasant flavor. Then I stuck my nose through the little opening to catch a quick whiff from the inside of the wrapping. What a poor decision. I could have gotten a perfectly alright Snickers bar for the same amount of Pesos.
Soon enough, the stench crept throughout the van like a contagious slimy disease. Matt no longer chuckled. Instead, he drew an oddly specific comparison, saying that the pungent smell reminded him of an old lady’s armpit. Needless to say, I got rid of the dried gas station shrimps at our next stop along the beautiful Mexican highway – but the stench, well, the stench lingered on for a little longer. Here and now, if I concentrate, I can still smell it.
* * *
Of course, this does not mean that I shy away from stinky food in general. Sure, the line between malodorous and aromatic is blurry at times, but I would never refuse a nice looking piece of French cheese for example. A few moons back, when I was still a quite new addition to the DeeCracks camp, we joined Sons of Buddha on a cheerful trip through France and Spain. Many a good times were had. Like at the tobacco store where we played one night. Or on the concert-free evening pretty early on.
A nice couple hosted us at their self-built home and offered us not only shelter but also regional tidbits. I was invited to sample the famous Roquefort cheese. I was besides myself in anticipation of the experience, but a female friend of our hosts made this whole ritual out of, well, cutting the cheese. (No pun intended.) She explained the procedure to me in great length and detail. In French. I do not speak French. I felt hopeless. And hungry.
For some reason, Mike and Matt find my regional Austrian dialect outrageously amusing. It is different to theirs, so there you go. To crack them up, I said to the ritually cheese-cutting young maiden something along the lines of “Honey, do you think I have never eaten Rock-ck-ck-ford before?” – in my thickest Tyrolean accent – and snatched a tiny bit of Roquefort from the plate right under our noses. As it is ingrained in my DNA, I just tried to sound like your typical skiing-instructor from Innsbruck. The cheese tasted amazing, by the way. Well, I guess, you had to be there …
But at least I avoided to drink from the weird liquor bottle with the snake in it that we got offered at the very same place. I am not kidding, there was a dead snake inside. It was supposedly a souvenir from the exotic and far-away country of Vietnam. Mike and Matt also stayed on the safe side of things. Just the sight of it raised a few red flags. To save face for all of us cretinous non-believers, Sons of Buddha’s bass player and dancer, Patrick, stepped in and helped himself to a swig from that ominous brownish bottle, apparently filled with Vietnamese Whiskey and snake urine. Somehow, poor Patrick was ill for the remainder of the tour. That’s what you get for taking one for the team.
* * *
French-speaking people play quite a prominent role in my personal tour memories. With DeeCracks I have been to Canada twice where we mostly played Quebec. I won’t sugarcoat anything, the Quebecois love their Poutine. Soggy French fries drenched in gravy with a helping of cheese curds. It is by no means bad food, don’t get me wrong. But the friendly young fellas from Lost Love who we toured with in 2015 would eat it every day. Their enthusiasm and, yes, craving for Poutine was indeed quite baffling. Also, they literally went out of their way to show us three Austrians all the places best-known for this unassuming little roadside snack. How polite. We ate it a lot. To break away from this Poutine routine, one day at a Tim Hortons fast food place Matt got himself a nice sandwich at called the Extreme Italian. I chuckled.
On this very same trip, we got sponsored by a Canadian brewery. This sounds amazing on paper. If you have ever noticed, us DeeCracks do indeed fancy a cold adult beverage every now and then. Good clean fun. What can possibly go wrong? So, we had boxes over boxes of Le Trou de Diable in the back of the van. We drank it quite prolifically, even the Pineapple-flavored ones – just to make all these boxes disappear as we had to unload and load them every night before and after the gigs to get to our gear. This became quite a burden. Also, we prefer simple blonde beer over any exotic flavors, to be frank. When it comes down to our brewskis of choice, we tend to be fairly conservative and in no mood for any shenanigans.
However, halfway through the tour, we played the Le Trou de Diable brewery building located in a town called Shawinigan. The very well-meaning and generous owner of the company noticed that we had run out of beers and immediately restocked us with plenty of new beer boxes worth around a thousand Canadian Dollars. More Pineapple-beers. Confusing times. In 2019, when we toured Western Canada once more, I treated myself to a bottle of the very same brand, mainly for nostalgia reasons. Matt chuckled. But it tasted good with my Poutine – a combo I can only describe as Extreme Quebecois.
* * *
In Japan we got down for some serious culinary action. We also found out the hard way that the Japanese seem to have some competitive tendencies when it comes to indulging in their meals. Both my most and least favorite food competition was called Ramen challenge. Who ate the most spiced up bowl of Ramen noodles won. It‘s not exactly rocket science. I love Ramen noodles and I love spicy stuff. A match made in heaven. I was born for this kind of contest. Or so I thought. I both won and lost the Ramen challenge on that particular evening in Nagoya, if you catch my drift. (Also, I loosely remember Mike dominating an arm-wrestling match against Bavo from So-Cho Pistons.) But I could not really enjoy my triumph as the hot-as-hell Ramen would not really settle in.
We stayed at a supposedly haunted hostel that night. On my occasional walk-of-shame-like expeditions to the bathroom I did not encounter any ghosts or demons. But perhaps one was hiding inside my guts, trying to escape my bloated body. Spicy food burns you more than once, I can assure you. Or as Mike put it, it leaves your rear end looking like a Japanese flag – a raunchy remark not everybody was fond of hearing in the Land of the Rising Sun …
Famously, in Japan you can get all kinds of edibles and beverages from vending machines. We made use of this plenty of times. This way, I also got some extra-mileage out of a few leftover coins at the airport before our departure. When I handed over the green, Matcha-flavored Kit-Kats to my younger relatives at home, they responded with an expression of pure puzzlement. This alone would have made the whole experience more than worthwhile. Man, I miss Japan …
* * *
I still remember it clear as daylight. CJ Ramone sat right opposite of me at a typical German restaurant in Hannover when he called the combination of Wienerschnitzel and French fries an “abomination”. I nodded silently. Another great memory from that tour in summer of 2019 is our Italian driver Gabriele. Many people know him as John. We started to call him Scooter for no real reason. Scooter is a supreme human being, a real keeper. An all-around delightful guy. So we bought him snacks at gas stations. One of them was an abomination called Carazza. This product is apparently intended as an homage to Italian food. Hence the faux-Italian name, I guess. Naturally, it is more of a parody of “la dolce vita” and “la cucina Italiana” than anything else. A sick joke even.
I believe we had told Scooter about Carazza before, so he was very intrigued when one of us got him one and placed it on the dashboard. He tore the wrapping open and took a cautious bite from his tiny Carazza. Matt chuckled. Mike giggled. Scooter exploded with laughter.
“What is this?“ he asked innocently.
“This is Carazza!“ we gleefully shouted back at him like in a 1980s TV commercial.
I love it when people find the humor in their food. He could not believe what was happening to his taste buds. Overwhelmed with joy, he declared that he was going to ask his Mama to bake him a Carazza as soon as he came home from tour. I wonder how that turned out, but I will ask Scooter next time I seek spiritual advice from him.
* * *
Of course, my tour food story would forever remain incomplete without mentioning our dear friend Kalle. Most of you probably know this mild-mannered dreamboat as the bearded guitar player in Dorkatron. But just like Scooter, he used to drive us around Europe on several occasions. He also shares my obsession with food. Whenever we stumbled upon a rich backstage buffet it meant game time for Kalle and me. We reigned with an iron fist. So much so that Mike dubbed us “Snack Pirates”. The moniker has stuck ever since and I fully identify with it.
It is not easy to wrap this up. There are just too many food-related anecdotes to fit all of them here. Like the one time we ate Hummus in Tel Aviv using raw onions as a dipper. Or this other time when Tombo from Seven Years Bad Luck spilled a liter of milk in the van that stank up our vehicle as we were cruising through a summery warm England. (Please, never bring milk.) Or that time Mike and I joined our Swiss buddies, Marco and Michael (a.k.a. Yeahman), to go to a ultra-fancy Russian restaurant in Saint Petersburg. All priceless memories.
Instead of rambling on forever and going full-on Anthony Bourdain on you, I choose to bow out gracefully before I overstay my welcome on this platform. However, to keep the nostalgia vibe going, I intend to head out to the nearest gas station, about ten minutes away from where I live. You know, to cover the essentials. Coca-Cola in a can for example. A bag of nuts or some potato chips. And perhaps something a little bit more adventurous. Fortunately, there won‘t be any dried shrimps available. But maybe a Carazza. Or a bottle with a snake in it. The future is unwritten.
I‘ll let you know as soon as I find out.
(But it‘s probably going to be a Snickers.)