The Gravy: In the Kitchen with Johnny Vidacovich

The Gravy: In the Kitchen with Johnny Vidacovich. Photo by Elsa Hahne.

Photo by Elsa Hahne.

The poem, yes. We call it “Getting Ready Spaghetti.” The name of the poem is “Oh, it’s Fun to Play the Drums,” but the best part of playing the drums is eating spaghetti.

Oh, it’s fun to play the drums.
Getting ready, eating spaghetti.
Going to the gig, feeling like a pig.
Oh, it’s fun to play the drums.
Stomach’s full of music’s fuel
that makes the bouncing balls of
sound and time go touching all
over your skin.
Oh, it’s fun to play the drums.
Eating spaghetti, getting ready.
Going to the gig, feeling like a pig.

Now, the protein in here is great. By the time you get to work it’s like [snaps fingers]. Protein going to work, you know. Pasta get you through the gig. I try to eat a lot of pasta. I was raised by my Sicilian grandparents all my life, so I had pasta about four times a week, in different forms and variations. The whole trick to making this dish work out is to have a wife. Ha! No, the secret to this dish is good cheese. Spend money on cheese, spend the money on cheese.

If you say, ‘Johnny, we’re having pasta at my house tonight’ I’m not going to ask ‘What kind?’—I’m not going to say that because I know I’m going to like it. If it’s something I’ve never had before, then I’ll eat slow. Pasta can hold anything together. I wouldn’t put a can of tuna fish in it, though.

Italian is my first choice. When I’m out with Astral Project, we eat healthy. Tony [Dagradi]’s a vegetarian, so he’s a problem. You’ve got to make sure the food is up to his standards, with no animals in it. Tony will eat no bullshit. No eggs. No butter. Bless his heart and their hearts, because James [Singleton] is a real bitch when it comes to—can I edit some words out?—he’s very conscious about food. They’re googled up, ‘Seven miles, take a right’ and you walk into Happy Chopstick and there’s a Mexican back there. I don’t say nothing. I say, ‘Okay, brother. Just give me a pair of chopsticks and a tamale.’

My mother-in-law cooks fat-boy meals. She loves me, because I go over there with a fork in each hand. You’re watching the right guy because I love to eat and I’m skinny as a rail. That’s alright, I’m healthy.

My grandmother cooked hamburgers on Saturdays, that was traditional, every Saturday. But hey were not like anybody else’s hamburgers. Most people take hamburger meat, make a patty, fry it. My grandmother cut up a little onion, a little green bell pepper, she took an egg, she took a little Italian breadcrumbs, could have been celery in there, maybe garlic, but she’d only put a little because we were young and garlic was strong to us. Now, I can sit down with an apple, piece of cheese and eat a whole bulb of garlic. Raw!

I like coffee, I like it all kinds of different ways. After Katrina, I got the Maserati of coffee makers. My grandmother used to give us coffee when we were little kids, before we’d go to bed. Love coffee, my whole life, but not that hotel coffee. That shit will give you the shakes.

I have low blood sugar. Have to watch it. I’ve never passed out on stage, but there’s been times when I was out, passed out, and people freaking out that I’ve had a heart attack. Man, two things; I need an apple and I need a Coca-Cola. Cola get me right up; apple keep me going. Want me up right now? Give me a Coke real quick; back it up with an apple.

My grandmother’s red gravy was good. She made a great meatball sandwich: French bread, mash a meatball down on that, put some red gravy on it. I know that as long as I eat spaghetti, I won’t be afraid. It’s going to be great to die, it’s going to be great!


Getting Ready Spaghetti

1 head roasted garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup basil chiffonade
1 handful cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 lb pasta, cooked al dente
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Roast garlic at 300 degrees for 30 minutes: Cut the top off the head, exposing the cloves, and rub a few drops of olive oil on top and over the skin—garlic is ready when cloves are soft enough that you can squeeze them out. Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet until golden, stirring/shaking constantly. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add roasted garlic cloves, pine nuts, basil chiffonade (stack leaves, roll into a fat roll and cut to make long, thin strips) and tomatoes and cook until warm, about 1 minute. Toss together with pasta in a large serving bowl and serve immediately, covered with parmesan cheese.

  • CordeliaCale

    What is the Maserati of coffee makers? I really want to know.