"If it was a straight mind you had, we wouldn't have known you all these years…"

by Katie Pizzuto on July 5, 2009

in Cooking

obliquestrategiesBrian Eno has such an amazing resume trailing behind him that trying to do it justice is futile, but suffice it to say that being a member of Roxy Music and working with the likes of David Bowie, Paul Simon, Talking Heads, Devo, U2, Coldplay and Elvis Costello are just the ends of his bread loaf. But what has eluded me for years about Brian was the fact that in 1975, while I was busy with my infatuation with Tony Orlando, Brian was crafting a set of instructional cards with artist Peter Schmidt they would wind up calling Oblique Strategies. The cards each contained a creative directive, like “Abandon normal instruments” or “Turn it upside down” which were designed to disrupt conditioned thought processes and spark creativity. The cards created a cult following in the music industry, often getting used during the songwriting and recording processes. But what if…for shits and giggles…these very suggestions were taken into your kitchen?

Both music and cooking are creative processes and, in the end, don’t most intelligent cooks, at some point or another, abandon many of their recipes anyway? Don’t we eventually find ourselves making the same damned apple pie we’ve made countless times and say, “Hmm. What if I stick those leftover caramel candies from Halloween in there? Or maybe I should put in little clumps of brie. Or wait, what if I…” It’s that singular “fuck it” moment that Brian taps into with these cards, and although he meant for them to be used by musicians, I think every cook, deep down somewhere—even if it’s only in their left big toe—is a rock star.

Sometimes it’s about a temporary loss of mojo and other times it’s about a daily chasm of the mundane that douses water on your creative fire, but either way, we all eventually wind up staring at the same damned chicken cutlet, praying for a divine intervention of sorts. At some point, we all wind up cleaning out the pantry, or the fridge, or both, and making an inspired dish that we wish we’d taken notes on, and I’m sure we’ve all also set out thinking we were culinary Gauguins and created what was, essentially, inedible dog food. It’s ok, I’ve had those moments, too—a fifth of good bourbon usually helps abate the trauma. But I’m thinking that these cards could be an impetus. For phenomenon or folly, I’m not sure, but does it really matter? There’s a free app available for download, which contains the entire set of cards, so do yourself a favor and hunt it down if you have an app-friendly device. Otherwise, you can buy the deck here: http://www.enoshop.co.uk/

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dale Cruse July 5, 2009

I have the Mac desktop app version of Oblique Strategies!

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2 Katie Pizzuto July 6, 2009

Major fail on my part to NOT have known about these, considering the “music geek” badge I claim to wear! Question is…ever thought to use ’em in the kitchen, Dale?

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3 Alan @ MutineerMag July 18, 2009

Oblique Strategies are WHERE IT’s AT! I use these all the time!

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