The Musical Ingredient began as a place to share my music and food explorations. Long before the blog began, I’d sit at work and daydream about what I was going to cook that night, making sure to think of a music pairing that would complete the vibe. I’d come home, rush to get it going, and when I’d strike the right matches, joy would flow out from my pores. I wanted to be able to share that with others.
It didn’t take long to find a trend in the pairings that made me the happiest. Each good pairing created a window into a nostalgic fragment of my past.
It’s relevant to know that I grew up as what has come to be known as a “third-culture-kid” (think army brats and the like). We grew up moving around internationally because of our parent’s jobs, and so we partially identify with many cultures. As you can imagine, it gets confusing.
The blog exists as a single frame, drawn around those varied experiences. The food and music are a direct medium to help me relive those cultural and personal memories and to magnetize them toward one central identity.
I hope that by walking you through a story and allowing you to taste and hear the time and place, you can go there with me. I’d like for us all to go places with you too. I invite you to share your memories with me along with your own food and music selections. I will publish what I can here on The Musical Ingredient.
In 2015 my most important roles became father and husband. My wife Zoraida and son Marcel have brought me so much happiness and stability after years of roaming around; it’s a great feeling. We have a small home at the base of a peaceful mountain in the Hudson Valley of New York. Although we still travel somewhat regularly we also bring traveling to us by renting out our 66′ Scotty camper, “the Beacon Mountain Cocoon”, on Airbnb. Each week we host people from as far away as New Zealand or South Korea and as close as Brooklyn. It allows me to stay connected to the wandering souls that I always loved to meet while traveling all while planting roots, at last, in my little mountain town.
My long-term dreams and ambitions these days include building a full-scale bocce court in my backyard—where I’ll pass the summer days with other surly dads over light beer, open flame cooking, and a contentious game—and renovating my kitchen so I can have both wood-fired as well as conventional indoor cooking implements. It is all refreshingly within reach.
I am a social worker by trade and a big part of my life is overseeing three group homes for young people in the foster care system. The amount of resilience they carry in the face of devastating challenges is a constant inspiration to me. The kids are so real and free from pretension, it makes hanging out with them a lot of fun. I hope I’m able to help them get a better shot at success than they have been set up for so far.
It must be said that the social work profession comes with immense stresses. It is crucial that we as social workers get self-care in order to be able to face the next day. This blog and all of the cooking, writing, and music listening I do for it are a big part of my self-care plan.
In addition to listening to music, I also play music—primarily flamenco guitar although I started out playing hardcore punk in my early teens. Anyway, I kind of want to start a 70’s dad-rock band now (think Steely Dan, America, the Eagles); hit me up if you’re interested!
In addition to writing for this blog, I also write about regional Hudson Valley food, culture, and lifestyle for publications like Hudson Valley Magazine.