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Charles R. Cross Talks Food, "The New Rock & Roll in Seattle"

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Welcome back to Open Wide, a monthly column from KIRO Radio's Rachel Belle that explores the eating habits of Seattle notables.

When you think of Seattle author Charles R. Cross, it's impossible not to think of Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix. Rightly so, considering Cross has made his living researching and writing about the lives of two of Seattle's biggest rock legends. But these days, Cross has music and food on his mind.

"Food has become the new rock & roll in Seattle," Cross mused from his Shoreline living room. "It's what people are obsessed with. It's what we talk about about. Our chefs are the current grunge stars of Seattle. Like everyone else, I am caught up in that craze."

Your whole career has focused on musicians. Would you ever write a biography about a chef?
I could! I'd write Anthony Bourdain's memoir, but he already wrote his own. But if there was somebody of that kind of character, I could see myself writing a book with them. There are some Seattle chefs who are fascinating. You know, Tom Douglas works in my former office. For years, The Rocket magazine, which I used to edit, was on top of Palace Kitchen. When we closed down, Tom moved upstairs and he sits at my desk today.

What are your favorite Seattle restaurants?
Hills [Restaurant and Bar] in Richmond Beach. It's one of my favorite restaurants and kind of a hidden gem. Their grilled salmon burger is phenomenal. It's an incredible piece of salmon on a great brioche bun with just the right garlic mayo aioli. It's to die for. That is my favorite dish in Seattle because they just know exactly how to grill the salmon. I'm also a big fan of Vietnamese food and that I just hanker for. There's actually a place on Aurora. Every time I'm there there's a cop car in the parking lot dealing with some kind of incident from the street. But on Aurora, near Home Depot, there's a Vietnamese restaurant called Mekong Village that's just incredible.

Can you share some details about what Kurt Cobain or Jimi Hendrix liked to eat?
Kurt Cobain was absolutely a picky eater. He had stomach problems. He loved Kraft macaroni and cheese and he ate lots of macaroni and cheese. What we know now is, if you have irritable bowel, like Kurt had, the worst thing you could eat is macaroni and cheese. But that was Kurt Cobain's go-to dish.

If you want to think about Jimi Hendrix, and go somewhere where there's an essence of him, for sometime he lived in the Panama Hotel. So go in the Panama Hotel, have their tea service, which I can almost guarantee you Jimi never did. But he did live upstairs there for awhile.

Charles R. Cross recently released a new book, Here We Are Now: The Lasting Impact of Kurt Cobain.
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