Jeremy Messersmith talks morels and frickles

The only thing getting in the way of local musician Jeremy Messersmith's hunt for morel mushrooms is his upcoming Graveyard tour, which will take him from fungi stalking in Minnesota to stops as varied as New York and Seattle. Luckily he had time to discuss the value of a piping-hot frickle before hitting the road.

1. I was told that you talk about food just as much as you do music. What food-related topics have you been discussing lately?

The section on mushrooms in The Omnivore's Dilemma was so mind-bogglingly cool that I've been obsessed with them ever since I read it. I bought some morel mushrooms for the first time this week and have been researching and reading about how to best prepare them. So far, I've found that morels, garlic, butter, salt, pepper, and cream make an amazing pasta sauce.

I'd love to go mushroom hunting at some point in my life, so um, if you know anyone...

Strange fact of the week: Japanese researchers recently discovered that if you shock certain mushrooms (simulating lightning) the yields are doubled. They're like some strange fungus offspring of Godzilla!

2. You have $20: Do you buy ingredients and cook something yourself or head out to eat? It's like a choose-your-own-adventure question.
If I was limited to $20, then in true Top Chef fashion I would head to my local co-op and try to assemble something. I might try my previously mentioned pasta recipe (minus the expensive morels!), a chickpea salad with cumin and lemon, and top it off with some kumquats to munch on after.

My favorite part of being a CSA member last summer was learning to work within the limitations of the season. Figuring out what to do with a bag full of rhubarb and kohlrabi was a great adventure. Hint: a lot of sugar never hurt rhubarb, and kohlrabi is fantastic as part of a salad.

Working within creative confines is a fun challenge whether I'm cooking, writing songs, or recording in the studio.

3. Has food ever inspired you musically? Can you point to, say, a certain roast beef sandwich for influencing a song?
Of course! I'm influenced and inspired by just about everything around me, food included. Food and music are both offshoots of human culture and are often intertwined. That's why restaurants play music! Good music can make food taste better.

I don't think I've ever written a song directly about a ham sandwich or anything, but I've certainly felt creatively challenged by some great meals I've eaten. I stopped at La Belle Vie for dinner last summer and I kept thinking how the dishes were so well thought out and perfectly executed. When someone puts so much care and dedication into something, I feel very special and inspired. I only hope people feel the same way when they hear one of my songs!

4. You've finished a show and you're starving. What's your favorite late-night food stop?
If I can make it back to my neighborhood before 1 a.m., I'll probably swing by Town Talk Diner for a cocktail and some frickles.

5. What's your favorite food-themed song (for example, I asked this of Mark Wheat and he said Led Zeppelin's "Custard Pie")?
Cherry Pie by Marvin and Johnny as covered by George Carlin on the Arsenio Hall show. I don't think it's really about Cherry Pie, but it's a fantastic song nonetheless.