Celebrating The Leonard Cohen Food Files: Hot Dogs, Ice Cream, Chateau La Tour 1982, Tuna Salad, Lagavulin, Silence Of The Lamb Chops, Pastrami Sandwiches, Champagne, Cheetos…

Singer-Songwriter-Poet-Icon Buys Hot Dog From Street Vendor

I’m posting this photo of Leonard procuring nourishment (from On Tour With Leonard Cohen by Sharon Robinson) as today’s festive first course from the smorgasbord that is one of my favorite Cohencentric categories: .

Leonard proffering food is intimately linked link to his fervent graciousness. As I reported in What Leonard Cohen Told Me Backstage In Chicago, food was a major feature in my first meeting with him:

In fact, the next thing I recall is Leonard (note we’re on a first name basis now) urging me to have something to eat from the crew’s buffet. This is accomplished by him taking my arm to lead me through the line of covered dishes, opening each of the 6-8 main offerings, describing the contents, and adding his recommendations.

And that led me to conclude,

Should I ever awaken in a post-apocalyptic desert with starving mobs battling over any edible morsel, my plan is to track down Leonard Cohen. If there is food to be had, he will, I am certain, find it and insist that his guest, even if the status of guest is self-appointed, dine from the bounty.

From reading many, many of Leonard’s interviews  and exchanging experiences with others who have met him, I know his urging food upon visitors, including reporters, fans, visitors… who appear for one reason or another in his presence, is his modus operandi. Brendan Bernhard, for example, claims Leonard “plied me with pâté and gorgonzola, with red wine and aquavit.” Leonard certainly knows how to lay out a spread (see Lunch At Leonard’s In LA – Leonard Cohen & Kezban Özcan Host Nosh For Duchess & DrHGuy),

I am also taken with his catholic taste. 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 four Cohencentric posts before this one attest to the Canadian singer-songwriter’s frankfurter fetish.

And, it’s not just hot dogs. While in Europe, he defends the American hamburger. He is fast food friendly, familiar with Krystal burgers, has a taste for McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish, and employs Wendy’s “Where’s The Beef” slogan in Closing Time (although Leonard did, at least once, misidentify the source as a Burger King campaign).

Of course, there is a full menu of Montreal-specific foods, such as bagels, smoked meat sandwiches, and Silence of the Lamb chops.

Grocer Of Despair In The Snacks Aisle

Continue Reading →

“I need some chocolate if I’m gonna do this.” Leonard Cohen, Working On Blue Alert With Anjani Thomas

Anjani tells of fueling the Leonard Cohen lyric-writing engine with candy during their work together on the Blue Alert album:

The song was No One After You, and we just needed one line to finish it so I could record it the next day:

I lived in many cities
from Paris to LA
I’ve known rags and riches

It was a bit tense as he paced back and forth. I sat at the piano and didn’t move, didn’t say a word. Then he finally said, “I need some chocolate if I’m gonna do this.”

That would have been milk chocolate, because he doesn’t like dark — and of course I always keep some around — so he ate a bar and about a minute later he came up with the line:

I’m a regular cliche

From personal communication with Anjani Thomas. (Anjani also used this anecdote with some minor differences in an interview with PureMusic.) Photo atop post by Dominique BOILE.

“I’ve recently developed a close acquaintanceship with red wine, especially Chateau Latour 1982, one of the finest vintages since Caesar planted the vine.” Leonard Cohen

What are you like when you are drunk?

quoteup2
More liquor. Although I’ve never been a big drinker – I have always sought out other highs – I’ve recently developed a close acquaintanceship with red wine, especially Chateau Latour 1982, one of the finest vintages since Caesar planted the vine. Unfortunately it is about 200 bucks a bottle.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From “Q Questionnaire – Leonard Cohen” in Q Magazine, September 1994.

“[Leonard Cohen] plied me with pâté and gorgonzola, with red wine and aquavit.”

Sitting at a small kitchen table, the 67-year-old composer of such songs as “Suzanne,” “Bird on a Wire,” “Famous Blue Raincoat,” “Chelsea Hotel,” “I’m Your Man” and “Democracy” plied me with pâté and gorgonzola, with red wine and aquavit. He drank strong coffee and smoked cigarettes. He looked less like a singer than an unusually cultivated business man of indefinite provenance — the face Jewish, the accent Canadian, the manner Old World and faintly elusive. A cosmopolite, but not quite at home anywhere. A Jew with a shrine to the Virgin Mary in his kitchen. A bohemian in a jacket and tie.

It was a pleasure to meet him. His hair is close-cropped and gray now, his smile wonderfully embattled. He makes you laugh. The man known as the most doleful singer in the world is really a kind of comedian, obsessed with hierarchies and judgments at a time when the world has been trying to forget that they exist.

Angst & Aquavit by Brendan Bernhard. LA Weekly: September 26, 2001. Photo by PavaOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0 it, Link

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?

quoteup2
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.

cokkking

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?

quoteup2
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?

quoteup2
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.