Theophilus London's Jamba Juice Revenge
Brooklyn rapper on Japanese ramen, grandma's roti
Touring musicians have a great gig. Rock and roll! It’s doubly great when they’re interested in exploring the international culinary world. We do realize some bands subsist solely on Taco Bell and Coke Zero. Shame on them! There’s Hatch chile to sample in New Mexico. Pappy Van Winkle in Kentucky. Doppelbock outside Hamburg. Tortas on the California-Mexico border. In Good Food, Rocks, we track down a band member serious about their grub—and who has held a job in the food industry too.
Brooklyn rapper and certified fashion plate Theophilus London has risen to fame on the strength of a well-circulated mixtape and genre-jumping debut LP Timez Are Weird These Days. He enlisted the help of TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek, Solange Knowles and Glasser to contribute—which certified the MC as one of the coolest dudes around.
We caught up London to talk not about vintage snap-backs, but food. Specifically, his grandmother’s world-famous "chicken feet" recipe, his love of ramen noodle soup and the ultimate revenge for his crappy manager at Jamba Juice.
Tell me about your most memorable job in the food industry.
I worked at a Jamba Juice for a little bit.
I’m going to guess that you’ve had your fill of Jamba Juice…
I worked as a janitor, which was kind of wack. I had to clean the freezer out. They seemed very critical of my work. Cleaning the floor, wiping the ceiling and shit. They were critical of the work. So you know, I kind of just got fired — and threatened to beat up the manager.
Have you returned since this incident?
I was in GQ magazine last year and I went there to get a smoothie — and brought the magazine for all the employees to see. I was like yeah, I’m famous now!
Did you show this to the manager?
I ordered from him and he was like, “Next person.” I mean, come on. Give me a smoothie, man.
How did food play a role in your life growing up in Brooklyn?
My grandmother’s a really good cook, so it’s not like I ate in restaurants that much. But we would go to Ali’s Roti Shop. That was good. Now I go to Habana Outpost a lot.
Tell me about your grandmother’s cooking. What were some dishes that she made that really stick out in your mind?
She made a lot of curry. Also, really tight lasagna and macaroni and cheese. Every Sunday she had a crazy dinner that was really good.
What about holidays?
At Christmas she made this thing that was basically like cow feet and chicken fingers. Like the real chicken fingers. Chicken hands.
Yeah, chicken feet. Why was it good?
It’s really good. She served it with pickled water and spicy cucumbers. She does roti too, which is like a wrap with curry chicken and goat.
What’s the best city in the world for eating? You’ve seen a lot while on tour…
The food I enjoyed the most is in Venice. They have some really good choices.
What do you order there?
Pasta and like raw fish. I’m just gonna put that down as number one.
Where else do you like to eat while on tour?
Asia is good. I ate a lot of ramen noodles while I was in Japan. I like the ramen noodles in packages here, but I like the real ramen. They made it from scratch and shit. It’s tight. They cracked some eggs in there.
So what do you eat when you record an album?
I recorded part of the new album in Stockholm, so I just ate spicy Thai soup every day. I recorded the other half in LA. So, basically, I recorded the album on tacos and spicy Thai soup.
What do you remember about the tacos in LA?
This is some real Mexican tacos. It’s open at midnight and he’s the only guy on the street and the line would be long as fuck. It’s amazing tacos, it just tastes for real, it doesn’t taste like it’s fast food.
And other LA restaurants?
In-N-Out Burger was very vital.
What about booze while you were recording? Did you have a favorite?
We drink a lot of tequila in the studio. It’s really good during the day. It doesn’t get you as drunk as people think. Tequila in the daytime is what does it for me.
Other Good Food, Rocks interviews on Food Republic:
- Little Dragon Needs Janssons Frestelse
- The Gluten-Free Folk Singer
- Far East Movement Hits The Étoufée