Music and food are my biggest passions, and in order to unite them, I’m kicking off my Talkhouse Music column, “Beats & Treats.” Here, I’ll be dreaming up music-themed treats. I promise they will get you both pumped and hungry 😉 This week, we’re taking a listen to Anthrax’s new record, For All Kings.
Although For All Kings is their eleventh studio album, I’m embarrassed to say this is the first album of Anthrax’s that I’ve ever listened to. All I knew about them before writing this was that they were a legendary metal band, but I was excited by the opportunity to write about a genre of music that has been highly influential for me lately. There’s a certain casual swagger that emanates from some of my favorite metal artists – such as Black Sabbath – that made a significant impact on the writing of Prince Rama’s newest album, Xtreme Now.
The powerful message of For All Kings took me by surprise, and inspired me to create a dish just as loaded with goodness. I’ll get there in a second, but first let’s go back to when I initially listened to the record.
When I first heard the strings in the track “You Gotta Believe” fading into throbbing drums and climbing guitar leads, my excitement became palpable. My skin got hot, my heart pumped faster and my body reacted in the same way that it does when I have too many emotions that I don’t know how to deal with: I started laughing hysterically.
Lead singer Joey Belladonna’s voice boldly sliced through this track: “Impaled/You all shall hail/You’re just a bag of blood and I’m holding the nail.” YIKES! Being vegan, that imagery didn’t exactly whet my appetite!
I remained determined, though. I would come up with the perfect recipe to go along with For All Kings. Next, I closed my eyes and listened to headbangin’ song “Monster at the End” hoping for some food clues. Belladonna sings, “In this place, this sun-bleached hell/Your sins were yours no angel fell/A monster hiding in plain sight/It’s the monster at the end.”
A light bulb went on in my head when I heard the words “hell,” “sins” and “angel.” This record definitely has some religious undertones! My mind started spinning with ideas for the easy, obvious dishes that I could prepare: angel hair pasta, angel food cake, devil’s food cake, deviled eggs! Then I paused.
Since when do I create easy, obvious food? Also, wouldn’t it be offensive to prepare such an easy, obvious dish for such an awesome band? Anthrax deserves more than a gimmick.
In “Blood Eagle Wings,” Belladonna states, “Hell is empty, ‘cause all my demons are here/Ever so deadly, hit so hard/Darkness in my soul is taking hold and becoming/Break me from this hold as I unfold blood eagle wings.” My mind was in a dark place, just like the song describes, as I struggled to come up with an edible concept that would do Anthrax justice.
Then I received some divine inspiration from their anthemic track “Breathing Lightning.” The heavy guitar quiets and the booming drums become light to make room for this message to sear through: “You always have the chance to do the right thing/Until the right thing comes undone/And with a thunderclap I’m breathing lightning/And this world has moved on.”
The right thing for me to do, I realized, was to (DUH) make something spectacular, but also something so spicy that it will make you breathe lightning!
When prepared thoughtfully, Frito pie isn’t just a carnival food; it also has layers. To do right by Anthrax, I’ve re-invented this side-of-the-road, southern staple to create something way more complex and unexpected – just like the band that inspired it.
The trusty Frito chips hold it down with their salty crunchiness, just like Charlie Benante’s authoritative drumming. The chili has a couple of sneaky, special-ingredient twists – cinnamon and dates – that make it surprisingly sweet, just like how Jonathan Donais’ insane lead guitar licks mingle with the surprisingly authentic lyrics.
And, to top it off, I’ve included a condiment of my own invention that I call “Hellish Relish” – because it’s sure to get you “Breathing Lightning.”
Now I’m going to teach you to make this Frito pie with the same concentration that that song describes: “Time is nothing, slow and focused/I stalk this land with just one purpose.”
My one purpose? To start cookin’. Let’s go!
Fit For All Kings Frito Pie and Hellish Relish
2 large bags of Fritos
1 can of black beans
1 can of red kidney beans
1 can of chickpeas
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 of a white onion
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 cups fresh water
1/3 cup cilantro
1/3 cup pickled jalapeños
1/3 cup chopped carrot
1 fresh jalapeño
Juice from 1/2 a lime
Look at all of these ingredients! They’re gonna awaken your tastebuds just like Anthrax blew my mind!
1) Drain and rinse the beans.
2) Using a sharp knife, chop the garlic and onions.
3) Reserve 1/3 cup of the chopped onions for the Hellish Relish!
4) In a pot over medium heat, combine olive oil with the garlic, onion, chili powder, cumin and cinnamon. When the mixture becomes fragrant, add the beans, soy sauce and one cup of fresh water. Let the chili come to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for fifteen minutes.
Now to prepare the condiment from hell…
“It’s coming, it’s coming, it’s coming, it’s coming/The monster is unleashed” sings Belladonna in “Monster at the End.” Let’s unleash the fire in the Hellish Relish!
5) Very finely chop the cilantro, pickled jalapeño, onion and carrot.
Be careful when chopping the fresh jalapeño! I’m used to everything being spicy because I’m from Texas. I love the heat; I wouldn’t prepare my food any other way. But I’ll never forget the time I learned my lesson about handling jalapeños.
In their song “Suzerain,” Anthrax says, “A history, of love and pain/In this story it’s all the same.” I was about eleven years old when I experienced this love and pain simultaneously. I was enthusiastically chopping jalapeños for my mom’s spicy cornbread (my FAVORITE), when ZING! A drop of jalapeño juice flew into my eye. The agony! The burn! It was like a spark of fire was trapped under my contacts! In my blind pain, I rubbed my eyes with the hand I had been chopping with. DOUBLE ZING! My whole face was on fire!!!
It’s a cruel lesson that had to be learned, and I’m warning you guys now: wash your hands with soap after handling fresh jalapeños!
6) Toss all ingredients together in a bowl with the juice of half a lime. Set aside.
7) Chop the dates for the chili.
8) You will see that the chili absorbed the cup of water. Add another half a cup of water along with the chopped dates. Let it simmer for another five minutes.
Now for the final stretch! Let’s finish with the same courage that Belladonna sings about in “This Battle Chose Us”: “Hell this ain’t no warning/You give ’em hell because you must/It’s a long hard road we’re walking/Because this battle chose us.”
9) Using an Exacto knife, cut a vertical slit from the bottom to the top of the two Fritos bags.
10) Ladle the chili in the center of the Fritos and top with the Hellish Relish.
Now that’s a Frito Pie fit For All Kings 🙂 🙂