Pictoria Vark‘s The Parts I Dread is an album that everyone needs to hear. It captures honesty and sincerity that’s translated throughout every song. Now I’ve had the chance to talk with Pictoria many times and I didn’t want to ask her normal questions so I sat and thought about what could be something different. And then an idea emerged, influenced by St. Lenox‘s cooking music videos.
Get ready for the ultimate food and drink pairing to go along with The Parts I Dread care of Pictoria Vark and me. I also asked Pictoria questions afterward to get a little more context of some of her choices.
What to Eat With The Parts I Dread
Food: Tteok mandu guk
Drink: Champagne or Sparkling water
With “Twin” being the first song on the record, I figured what better way to start off than with a New Year’s theme! Especially since it’s a song about family, albeit a fictional one, and the guitars sound as sparkly as champagne.
“Twin” offers a low-key, rainy day start to the album. It’s got a contemplative tone that speaks both during every verse and vocal line along with the moments between notes. The song is designed to prepare for rebirth.
Food: Fish tacos with spicy mayo
Drink: Margarita or limeade
For “Wyoming,” I wanted to pick something that had a balance of two different flavors to match the two distinct parts in the song itself. This is also my personal favorite song on the album and margaritas happen to be my favorite alcoholic drink!
Food and Drink: The next fast food stop on a road trip
The methodical tempo on “Wyoming” feels like a road trip watching the lane dividers move past the window. As every mile adds on the odometer, you get a little more restless. And when the louder chorus of “Wyoming” starts, it feels like you’re taking the off-ramp to get to eat a guilty pleasure.
I Can’t Bike
Food: Annie’s boxed mac and cheese
Drink: Miller High Life or lemonade
“I Can’t Bike” in my mind is the most accessible and ‘pop’-y song on the record, so I wanted to go with picks that are just as ubiquitous and easy to get into. I wrote this track during my first year of college and these picks were some staples of mine.
Drink: Microbrew beer
“I Can’t Mike” reminds me of the Mission District in San Francisco. Riding around the neighborhood, there are a lot of taco places along with bougie stores. The tempo is perfect for a casual ride on a single-speed and is a nice counterpoint to the song title.
Food: Mushroom ravioli with bechamel sauce
Drink: Bloody Mary or Bloody Mary mix
In the production notes for this track, I reference the “blue filter” that coats every shot in the very first Twilight movie; these picks are a tribute to that! Bella orders mushroom ravioli at the restaurant with Edward and well…the Bloody Mary mix speaks for itself!
Food: Shin Ramen
In a convenience store
This song reminds me of the first filler meal of the night in Seoul. Going to the convenience store, buying cup ramen and a beer, and eating standing up just to get something in your stomach before meeting friends. “Bloodline II” is like the calm before the storm.
Drink: Grapefruit juice
“Good For” is a really bittersweet one for me and felt that something tart would reflect it best. The vinegar-y taste of naengmyeon, the sourness of grapefruit juice, it all suits the track well.
Food: Fried chicken
Drink: Korean beer
Next to the Hangang in the afternoon
A lot of The Parts I Dread have a mellow tone and “Good For” reminded me of going to the Han river, watching the water, and talking with a friend. For the song, it would make more sense to get fried chicken and beer and talk shit with someone while eating. The drumming on the song sounds like the water that’s quietly attacking the shore.
Food: A medium rare steak and mashed potatoes
Drink: A shot of whiskey (or non-alcoholic whiskey)
“Out” is an unexpected, dark, and raw turning point in the album and is kind of about embodying this masculine violence and confidence that I don’t necessarily relate to. I don’t really eat meat or drink much whiskey and feel these picks were an accurate way to represent that.
“Out” has a tonal shift from the previous songs. The earlier tracks have a brightness and mellow core that is entirely stripped away. The plodding and deliberate bass and drum rhythms remind me of a hangover’s pounding tempo. As much as you try to ignore it, the pain remains. The only solution is gamjatang to make you sweat out the evil.
Food: Matzo ball soup
Drink: Warm apple cider
This song takes its name from a small town in Northern New Jersey near where I grew up; I wanted to pick a food and drink that were equal parts comfort and nostalgia in reminiscing my time there.
Food: Homecooked chicken and rice
After “Out,” “Demarest” feels like coming home. And my home staple is spicy chicken and rice. The song speaks to wanting comfort and reliability and a level of safeness that is only felt when you’re in a familiar place. You know the food is going to be good because it’s muscle memory preparation at this point.
Food: Chocolate chip cookies, straight out of the oven
Drink: Chamomile tea
I think “Friend Song” is probably the most wholesome and sweet song on the record. It’s just about the love I have for my friends, forever and always. Nothing speaks to that timelessness more than a cup of tea and some warm cookies.
Drink: Gin and tonic or whiskey
It’s weird how “Friend Song” reminds me of the first time I heard Chuck Ragan’s Americana folk solo stuff. It just feels like you’re in the woods, sitting on a hill above a city, or waiting for the sun to go down at the beach. And to pair with the emotion, a gin and tonic or whiskey to provide some warmth as the cold from the night arrives.
Finding Out More About The Parts I Dread
One thing I’ve always wondered is how an artist decides on the order of the songs. Before with CD or tapes, the song order was a very special thing. Now with streaming, people are much more single-focused. How did you decide on this song order?
I started laying out the track order when I had everything written except “Out” and “Bloodline II”, almost like sketching out a drawing or painting before doing the full thing. Compositionally and narratively I felt like there was a really nice arc to it and just needed a few final touches to plump up the middle of the record. Thinking about track order during the writing process really helped me make a work that felt complete and fully realized.
Tteokguk is a very special Lunar New Years’ food. Did miyeokguk ever cross your mind since it’s has big symbolism for birthdays?
I actually didn’t but that’s a great point! My mom always makes it when I’m sick at home and it’s such good comfort food.
Even though you’ve gone vegetarian/vegan (not sure which is more accurate), what rank would you give the different types of tacos. For some reason, fish tacos don’t always hit the same as carnitas with Tecate.
Really?! I guess I wouldn’t know since I don’t eat meat really but I still love fish tacos with Tecate! I’ve been getting really into some of the veggie/vegan options; jackfruit, soy chorizo, nopales, etc. but with no ranking order!
Which do you rank worse – Miller High Life, Coors Light, Busch, or Cass?
Busch obviously. The beer for Iowa dudes who hold dead deer in their Tinder profile pictures.
All of your food choices run a spread of different cultural foods with time and age also being a factor. What is your go-to meal to eat at:
A. Parent’s home
I can’t lie, my parents and especially my dad, are extremely good cooks. I don’t know what food is my go-to at home, but I’ve definitely been missing their homemade focaccia and jjajangbap most.
B. Solo in your apartment
I can be reallyyyy lazy and bad about cooking for myself, but love to make some Japanese curry with mixed veggies and potatoes over rice!
C. On tour
Literally any fresh fruit or vegetable. I try my best to eat at least a fresh fruit or veggie every day on tour and you’d be surprised how difficult that is to do.
Please provide the recipe and steps for the dish you are most proud of making.
- Cook ½ cup of rice (if you have leftover rice, skip this step!)
- Chop ¼ of an onion and saute in a pan until translucent
- Add frozen mixed veggies (however much you want, I never measure) and continue cooking until they are not frozen
- Add cooked rice to pan and mix it all together
- Optional: crack one egg into the pan and stir in until cooked
- Lower the heat, fold in soy sauce to taste, and serve :~)
What’s one food and drink pairing you think is lost to the general public?
One can of Red Bull and one banana from a gas station.
Featured photo by Meanz Chan