Dinner and an Album: Chickpea Bajane and El Guincho’s Pop Negro

Posted by: on Jan 18, 2011 | One Comment

If you ever get “voluntold” to make dinner, and the recipe at hand looks like something Clarissa’s mom would have made, just go with it. Appearances can be deceiving.

Chickpea Bajane did not pique my interest at first glance. By that I mean, upon looking at the ingredients list, my face dissolved into gaping maw. A fennel bulb… and leeks? With quinoa? Uh-huh. Maybe I’ll just have cereal for dinner instead. However, as I continued reading, things started to look up. A CUP of wine. Indeed. 5 cloves of garlic. Go on. Thyme and chickpeas. Maybe this will work.

Sometimes you just need a little faith that everything will come together in the end. Despite a very healthy ingredient list, this dish is incredibly flavorful and filling! Shocking, I know. The combination of fennel, garlic, wine and thyme creates a very unusual flavor and consistency that is buttery, moist and, well, fennel-y. Although “Bajane” is a Provençal word for “midday meal”, it’s perfectly suited for a weeknight dinner as it is light and reheats well for lunch the next day.

On an effort scale of 1 to 10 (1 being dinner through a feeding tube and 10 being a nice Coq au Vin or Baked Alaska), I’d give this a 4.5, due to all the chopping. Otherwise it is a very straightforward, bullet-proof dish. Jump over to Another Freaking Cooking Blog for the recipe. Maybe make a nice Clover Club or Airmail to go with.

As for the album…

If you’re making Chickpea Bajane, you really should be listening to Pop Negro. Just pretend you’re the host of the new TBS show, Dinner and an Album.  In my case, I played the part of both the female eye candy and snappy comedian.

Pop Negro is the fourth album from El Guincho, the solo project of Spanish musician Pablo Díaz-Reixa.  Don’t be confused by the title – “Pop” means Octopus in Catalan, so what we’re dealing with here is a “Black Octopus”. Obviously. The sound has a colorful, exotic texture that feels like a blend of Animal Collective, Os Mutantes, afrobeat and tropicália, which Díaz-Reixa describes as  “space-age exotica”.  I like to describe it as “organic electronica”, but because that could not sound more pretentious, I’ll just call it “the perfect soundtrack to Chickpea Bajane”.

I like my music layered, and this is layered. Between the vocals, keyboards and steel drums, the sound is a fluttering, vivid, colorful PARTY for your ears.  If you didn’t have synesthesia before listening to Pop Negro, you definitely will afterwards.  “Bombay”, “Lycra Mistral” and “Ghetto Facil” are the standout dance tracks, although the slower tempo of “Danzo Invinto” and “Muerte Midi” are welcome transitions into a smoother, beachier sound.

Díaz-Reixa was interviewed by the NYTimes last October, and had some interesting thoughts on music and style.  Of his musical influences, he says, “My grandma. She’s a music teacher and used to be a singer, and also one of my best friends. She always gives me the best advice. The producer that I admire the most these days is Humberto Gatica. Digging his work with Celine Dion’s ‘Falling Into You’”. That’s right – “Falling Into You”. On his current style obsessions: “I love old Mistral equipment, shirts and beach towels. I wish they’d be easier to find. And I really love girls in their dresses in the summer in Gran Canaria.” Of course he does.

Check out (the slightly NSFW) video for “Bombay”:

“FM Tan Sexy”: