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.
San Francisco-based singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson has enjoyed a type of platinum-selling success and lifestyle — cars, women, a sharp house in the Bay Area. But he can’t, technically, enjoy everything in life. For eight years he’s known of a gluten intolerance that’s restricted him from eating flour and a whole bunch of other delicious things.
The situation hardly bothers the singer, who feels great and is often showered with all sorts of ridiculous gluten-free baked goods from his adoring fans. “I eat the SHIT out of them,” he recalls of the brownies and cookies whose tastes can range from “awesome to chocolate chips mixed with sand.” We also spoke about working in a miserable “prep it/freeze it” Italian restaurant and writing songs about sex…and cupcakes. Gluten-free cupcakes, of course.
When you found out you were gluten intolerant, what was your first reaction?
I was probably bummed to have to edit what I was eating, because that kind of change is never fun. And it’s funny, at first, being gluten-free sounded like total voodoo to me. Then once I stopped eating it, I understood. I felt way better.
What did you miss eating at first?
Pizza and donuts, probably. The fun stuff.
What has been the great benefit of going gluten-free — outside of the obvious of feeling better?
Ever since I was a little kid, I used to get WICKED canker sores. It sucked. Traditional doctors said it was stress… but since going gluten free, I haven’t had one. Not one. Totally wild.
Has the special diet inspire your songwriting?
Haha, not really. Unless you count my unreleased hip-hop masterpiece album — “Baked Goods Rule My Life, Bitch!”
Do you meet a lot of fans in as similar situation? Do you exchange recipes?
Fans are cool. When they hear I am gluten-free, they show up with gluten-free cookies and cupcakes — and a few folks have turned me onto some cool recipe blogs.
Do you actually eat the baked goods?
I eat the SHIT out of them, for sure. Sometimes they are amazing, and sometimes they taste like chocolate chips mixed with sand.
And you’ve worked in the food-service industry too..
I worked as a sous-chef at an Italian restaurant in my hometown of Lexington, Mass. I did it for 3 summers. It was rough. Not the sexiest of operations, let me tell you. It was a “prep it/freeze it” type of situation. No fun.
OK, on the spot, your top five favorite gluten-free bakeshops in the world?
BabycakesNYC/LA. BabycakesNYC/LA. BabycakesNYC/LA. BabycakesNYC/LA and… BabycakesNYC/LA…. All the rest are just trying to catch up.
Was your song “Faster” written about a cupcake? Sounds like it.
It was written about sex…and cupcakes.
Is there a city or region that you particularly like to hit on tour for the food?
I live in San Francisco, so that’s hard to beat…but NYC is a mecca. There is always something amazing to eat there, around the clock. Also, Austin, TX has some pretty unbeatable places. So does Sydney, Australia.
If you had one meal to splurge on, where would it be?
I pretty much only spend money on music and food — so I feel like I splurge all the time. But I’m always a sucker for a REALLY good steakhouse.
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