Much of the time, Roshi and I were two buddies drinking. He likes sake, I tried to convert him to French wine, but he was very resistant. But we both agree about Cognac and Scotch.

From I Never Discuss My Mistresses Or My Tailors by Nick Paton Walsh. The Observer, October 14, 2001

Also see

Q: What are you good at that has nothing to do with music? Leonard Cohen “I can make a couple of good sandwiches: tuna salad and chopped egg salad. And Greek bean soup.”

What are you good at that has nothing to do with music?

I can make a couple of good sandwiches: tuna salad and chopped egg salad. And Greek bean soup. I was a cook for my old Zen master for many years. So there were two or three dishes that he liked, you know. Teriyaki salmon, a few things. I wouldn’t call myself a good cook by any means. My son is a very good cook. My curries are not bad.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Leonard Cohen on Longevity, Money, Poetry and Sandwiches By Gavin Edwards (Rolling Stone: Sept 19, 2014). Photo by Chris Buck Website Instagram.


More about Leonard Cohen’s cooking can be found at

“He tells me ‘Do you know the difference between a Rémy Martin cognac and a Courvoisier?’ ‘I do not know,’ I tell him. I try it… Remy Martin may have a more feminine taste? That’s the kind of conversation we have.” Leonard Cohen Talks About Roshi

When did you first come into contact with Buddhism and Zen?

I never came into contact with them directly, they didn’t interest me. But I met a man twenty years ago, whom I enjoyed very much. He was older than me, and he seemed to know more than me. One of the things he knew was how to drink. I learned from him how to drink. It turns out he was an old Zen monk. And as he told me a few years ago: ‘Leonard, I’ve known you for eighteen years and I’ve never tried to give you my religion. I’m just using sake.’ This is what my relationship with Buddhism has been, I have no interest in Buddhism, no interest in Zen. What interests me is drinking with my old friend and to be in his company. I enjoy sitting in the meditation room because there is no phone, the incense is sweet, it’s very quiet and I can hang on my piece of wood very well when I sit there in the morning. You have the opportunity to study your self, how it rises and how it falls. But what the Buddhist theologians have to say on the issue does not interest me much.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


What are you talking about with this monk?

Well, he does not speak English, so it is very difficult to discuss theology with him. He tells me ‘Do you know the difference between a Rémy Martin cognac and a Courvoisier?’ ‘I do not know,’ I tell him. I try it. Hum… He tastes. Hum… Remy Martin may have a more feminine taste? That’s the kind of conversation we have. He has a tendency not to particularly like religion. It is difficult not to have an aversion toward religion when you see what it does to people, at what point they become satisfied with themselves, to what point it separates themselves from others. Generally speaking religion has a pretty disagreeable odor. The love of God, that’s a different story. At least two times a year I go to Mount Baldy. It looks like a monastery; it is a very intensive center for Zen training. The days are filled with meditation and manual labor. In the kitchen, in the garden, we dig, we paint. I like being part of a community once in awhile. There is nothing extra, you live the day, no theology, no dogma. You live a religious life on the inside, not on the outside. You get up at three in the morning, you sit for two hours in the meditation room, you prepare breakfast, you clean, you polish, you garden, then you meditate again. And you study yourself in your own way with the help of a teacher but not one of theology.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Comme Un Guerrier by Christian Fevret (Les Inrocks: Aug 21, 1991). Via Google Translate.

From The Leonard Cohen Food Files: Chili Dog Events

I suspect the list of music icons throughout history who favored Chateau La Tour 1982, Lagavulin single malt Scotch, and various cognacs and also enjoyed a well prepared hot dog resolves to one entry; Leonard Cohen. But, at least three Cohencentric posts attest to the Canadian singer-songwriter’s frankfurter fetish.

Today’s offering features an unrequited request for a chili dog. It’s also a pretty good story about an getting an interview with Leonard.

Twenty-five years ago, almost to the day, I sat in the bar of Toronto’s King Edward Hotel asking Leonard Cohen questions about Art and Life, Truth and Beauty, the Sacred and the Profane. A week earlier, in a different establishment across town, I’d been asking him whether he wanted fries or salad with his chili dog. He’d just come down from the mountain — Mount Baldy near LA, that is, where he’d been rigorously observing an ascetic lifestyle in a Zen monastery — and there he was, in my section, ordering a hot dog and Coke. Fortunately, the restaurant happened to be empty apart from Mr. Cohen and his female companion (the distraction of serving my biggest idol might have doomed my other tables). Not so fortunately, as the chef tardily informed me, we’d run out of chili dogs. After working up the courage to break this news — which (must’ve been the Zen thing) he accepted with admirable composure — I worked up the courage to ask him for an interview. I was a 21-year-old waiter and would-be writer working in downtown Toronto (some things, apart from age, don’t seem to change). The woman I was living with, in a dying relationship, was perhaps an even bigger Cohen fan than myself. When she heard that I’d met Leonard and would be interviewing him at the King Eddie, where he was filming I Am a Hotel, and when it was quite clear that I would not be divulging his room number, she threatened to split up with me. It was one of those let-me-get-this-straight moments: if I refused to provide my girlfriend with the directions to another man’s bedroom, I would be history. But such was the allure of Canada’s “melancholy bard of popular music.” (By the way, Suzie, it was Room 327!)

From Encountering Cohen: A Reminiscence On The Eve Of A New World Tour by Steve Venright. Mondo Magazine: August 15, 2008 (original interview date May 1983).

Credit Due Department: Photo by bryan… from Taipei, Taiwan – 起士熱狗堡, 皇后美食館, Queens Cuisine, 台北, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons.

“[‘Always’] by Irving Berlin was originally in ¾ time, and I turned it into a 4/4 song, and I always loved it.” Leonard Cohen On His Transformation Of Always Via “A Drink That I Had Invented Called The Red Needle”

[‘Always’] by Irving Berlin was originally in ¾ time, and I turned it into a 4/4 song, and I always loved it. It’s very beautifully constructed as a song, and I think the lyric is very touching. So, I went in there with Steve Lindsey, a producer, and some really excellent musicians, and we prepared a drink that I had invented called the ‘Red Needle.’ It’s basically, Tequila, Cranberry juice, and lime, and some other elements. And after I had distributed this drink, and people had sampled it, we produced this track.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Interview With Leonard Cohen by by Chris Doritos. KCRW, Los Angeles: February 18, 1997. Retrieved 09 July 2014 from LeonardCohenFilesOriginally posted at, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

More information about Leonard Cohen’s Red Needle cocktail can be found at Leonard Cohen on the preparation of his Red Needle cocktail & its effect on recording sessions.


“He Called Me His Dharma Sister” Sharon Robinson Talks About Songwriting & Studying Zen With Leonard Cohen – And His Cooking

Our writing process in general applied to almost everything we worked on. He’d present lyrics to me, I’d work on some music, then I’d go meet him at his house in Los Angeles. He’d make me something to eat first; tuna salad, or he’d scramble up some eggs, or egg salad. He made a great egg salad. Oh, and a roasted chicken! He loved roasted chicken and cauliflower. He’d done a lot of cooking at the Zen monastery. He had a certain very refined sense of hospitality, and he enjoyed when people would come by. Then there would be some discussion of his latest ideas that he was investigating about life and religion and philosophy. Or we’d talk about family and friends. There were these long periods of sort of setting the tone for the work. And then he’d listen to the music, several times, before deciding whether it was something we wanted to move forward with. We studied Zen together, and there were often just quiet moments, with incense and no words. He called me his ‘dharma sister.’ We toured for so long together, and sometimes it felt like we were soldiers preparing for battle. But traveling with Leonard, there’s a quiet, monastic tone to the whole thing. You’re just respectful of his space and his sense of contemplation. He would carry his own guitar; sit in the front of the bus, or the middle of the plane; sometimes he would write, but there wasn’t a lot of hoopla going on. We benefited from his aura. Still, he would always tell jokes—some were pretty corny, pretty dry and always with a twist. Even though his image is that of the very dark, solemn poet, Leonard loved to laugh.quotedown2

Sharon Robinson


From He Called Me His Dharma Sister by Sharon Robinson (Texture)

Credit Due Department: Photo by Marc Roed

Chef Naz – Leonard Cohen’s Caribbean Connection In Fredericton, New Brunswick

“Leonard Cohen, most humble soul I’ve ever met.” Chef Naz of Caribbean Flavas – Fredericton

On May 11, 2008, Leonard Cohen inaugurated his 2008-2010 World Tour (although no one knew it would be a three year tour, let alone be followed by tours in 2012 and 2013 then) at The Playhouse in Fredericton, NB, a venue that seated about 700.

During that trip, he was so impressed with a local restaurant, Caribbean Flavas, that he signed up owner, Chef Naz, to join the Unified Heart Touring Company on the road. As Chef Naz recounts it:

“He’s like, ‘okay I like this lunch … what are you doing for the rest of the week?”

It turns out that Chef Naz, who has catered to a number of music industry stars, was impressed with Leonard Cohen as well:

“He would sit with us, with us! The working folks…And eat, chat, make jokes. I’ve never seen that before.”

The full story can be found at Leonard Cohen’s return to the stage started with a flavourful stop in Fredericton by Jeremy Keefe. Global News Canada: Nov 11, 2016.

Anjani On “If Leonard Cohen Were A Vegetable, Which Vegetable Would He Be?” What Kind Of Cake She Would Be & Her Recipe For Kickass Shortbread

Introduction:In late 2007 and early 2008, Anjani Thomas (Leonard Cohen’s backup singer, collaborator, and romantic partner) and I exchanged many emails, most dealing with serious matters such as her life and career, her relationship with Leonard, music, meditation, cosmos emanations… and others focusing on — well, let’s go with goofy stuff.  The following falls into the latter category.


DrHGuy: A blogger who is both a serious cook and a big fan of Leonard Cohen inevitably asked,

If Leonard Cohen were a vegetable, which vegetable would he be?

I’m thinking something on the lines of an eggplant, but you, no doubt, have a more interesting response.

Anjani: Definitely a cabbage. First of all, it looks like a brain. Second, it’s got substantial weight, and when you cut it open it has those labyrinthine channels and layers tightly packed together. His mind is like that, his work is like that. And third, coleslaw is his favorite salad.

DrHGuy: Extrapolating from the veggie quandary, my next question is, of course, “If Anjani were a candy bar, which candy bar would she be?”

Anjani: Can I be a piece of cake instead? Because I’m not much of a candy eater but I am very big on cake. All kinds, as long as it is great. I won’t sully my love for it by eating less than great cake. I’d have a tough time choosing between fresh strawberry shortcake with whipped crème or the classic chocolate layer with an ice cold glass of milk. And another thing: I had to give up refined white sugar recently, (and this is more information than you asked for, I know) so ideally it should be made with half the amount of Rapadura sugar and with organic ingredients. But in a pinch, if someone’s mother has made it, I’ll just say a prayer and indulge.

I happen to have the easiest recipe for a shortbread that is so divine I had to stop baking it because I will eat half a batch before I can even think of sharing it. So if I were a cookie it would be this one. And just so you don’t wonder the rest of your life what it is, here ya go:

Kickass Shortbread
2 c. room temperature butter
2 c. sifted powdered sugar (I cut this to 1 1/4 cup)
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2c flour

Cream butter and sugar.
Sift other dry ingredients and add to mixture.
Roll into 1” balls and flatten.
Bake at 325 degrees for 10 min.
Sift powdered sugar over them if you like.

And don’t blame me if you eat them all.

Credit Due Department: Photo by Dominique BOILE. Originally posted at, a predecessor of Cohencentric