Kitchen Dancing


(duh dun, dun dun, dun dun)

Here WE belong
Fighting for the rice milk–
We have to make prosciutto for you all!

In the privacy of my own car and kitchen, I am a rock star. Aren’t you?

This culinary take on Queen’s Princes of the Universe is the perfect accompaniment for a hearty chicken pot pie with a bacon infusion. Channeling rock and roll’s greatest front man while slicing carrots and dicing garlic is a therapeutic, refreshing experience. Just don’t stab anyone with your makeshift bottomless microphone stand.

Music and cooking just go together, like smooth cashew butter and crunchy cacao nibs. They both involve passion and creativity, thought and harmony. Those of us with food allergies have to cook, so we might as well make our time in the kitchen fun. Cooking is also an ideal opportunity for family time, when everyone can join in to serenade the salsa and infuse the iced tea with improvised lyrics.

Several years ago a close friend and I were discussing the fine art of food preparation when she brought up the subject of “kitchen dancing.” I was thrilled to learn that I’m not the only person on the planet who breaks into song and dance in the kitchen.

Kitchen dancing. What a great term for it! Our shared love of performing in the kitchen was not a surprise given that we used to belt out rock songs in our backyards as little girls. Giant wire spools were our stage and our microphones were sticks from the dense woods that served as our backdrop.

For her last birthday, I decided to upgrade her microphone to the ultimate kitchen rock star accessory, microphone tongs:

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I recently bought these drumstick spoons as a wedding gift for a talented percussionist:

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And surely music lovers won’t fret over these guitar spatulas:

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The key to successful kitchen dancing, the blanket term for letting the inner guitar hero loose on the linoleum, is spontaneity. My lyrics come in bursts, and I’ve been doing this for so long that I automatically spout alternative lyrics to songs while opening the fridge or sautéing crimini mushrooms.

Why you always thinking of an enchilada, don’t you know you really want a chimichanga…
Conga, Gloria Estefan

Yes, this is how it happens. My pets are part of the magic, because a human being high kicking near the stove almost ensures that at some point food will get dropped on the floor.

We want the toast
(dundun, DUH duh dun)
Gotta have some toast

We Want the Funk, George Clinton

Perhaps I listened to Weird Al too much as a kid, but my brain just works that way. Sometimes I don’t understand song lyrics so I make up my own words anyway. Other times I strongly dislike a certain song, but years of endless repetition over the airwaves has cemented the tune in my head, like this gem:

I can’t baste this turkey anymore…
I’ve forgotten what I started basting for…

Can’t Fight This Feeling, REO Speedwagon

If you sing in the kitchen, food tastes better. I don’t know why this works but it does. Rock from the ‘80s and early ‘90s spices up seafood and starchy dishes. Belting out classics with a heavy guitar riff also adds atmosphere.

Pasta on the burner!

Fire Woman, The Cult

Oyster sauce
(nut nuh, nut nuh)
Oyster sauce
(nut nuh, nut nuh)
Oyster sauce
(nut nuh, nut nuh)
Oyster sau-aus-aus-aus-aus-aus

Panama, Van Halen

Instrumentals can work well in the kitchen also. High energy songs with a catchy beat and brass section are essential to Saturday night gatherings in the summer. I’m particularly fond of salsa and Son Cubano with food, which has been a family tradition on hot days for many years.

Get down with spaghetti
(do do do do do do, do do do, do do do, do DOOT, doot doot DOOT)

Open Sesame, Kool & the Gang

Latin beats provide an opportunity for a group performance, with drummers on pots, pans, and Tupperware while joining in a call and response tune:

You add the cayenne to the coriander (with rice and beans)
You make it caliente with the blender (and rice and beans)

Think Caballo Pelotero, Le Gran Combo

It doesn’t matter if you can dance or sing that well. What matters is that you put your heart into it. Dancing pseudo-salsa while tossing a salad makes all the ingredients blend beautifully and the lettuce shine. Kick your heels up and see what great dietary heights you reach.

Juice. Orange juice.
It’s my favorite citrus fruit.
Please, oh squeeze,
Straight from the Florida keys.

Footloose, Kenny Loggins

Sometimes you may enter the kitchen in a foul mood, having no desire to indulge your library of cookbooks or multitude of kitchen gadgets. A little rebellion with your zucchini bread can be liberating.

(dmm, ch, dm dm ch, dmm, ch, dm dm ch)
We are going to bake it
Yeah, we’re going to bake it
We are going to bake it
Close the door…

We’re Not Gonna Take It, Twisted Sister

As much as I dislike grunge, I must give Soundgarden a nod for assisting with culinary apathy. The angst helps purge the frustration of not remembering what you just put in your crock pot.

How will I know—if there’s tomato paste…
How will I know—if there’s tomato PAY-AY-aste-AY-AY-aste…

Fell On Black Days, Soundgarden

In the kitchen, I am Bernstein directing Mahler’s Titan. I am Bach in Arnstadt composing his Little fugue. Our voices rise toward heaven as the corn boils and the cod broils. Wooden spoons and spatulas are lifted in the air to celebrate the joyful fusion of falsettos, fortissimo, food… and Falco.

Macchiato, macchiato, macch-iato
Macchiato, macchiato, macch-iato
Macchiato, macchiato
Oh oh, a macchiato
(come on and make a macchiato)

Rock Me Amadeus, Falco

For a truly epic experience in the land of toaster ovens and coffee pots, take Sammy Hagar’s vocals for Right Now for a spin. Assign everyone an instrument and dim the lights until the beat starts. Glasses filled with water, overturned plastic bowls, and nearby mops can complete the ensemble.

With pots steaming as you wail, “(Right now) Hey! It’s your lasagna… (right now) Come on, eat EVERYTHING!” you’ll realize that your family should be touring in a groovy remodeled school bus with a custom paint job. It’s excellent bonding time, and you made a tasty meal as a group as well. Trust me, you’ll be hungry after combining burger flipping with a raging guitar solo.

Sometimes people don’t admit how much or how loudly they sing when they are in their homes or vehicles. Comedian Hal Sparks has talked about how guys disown Foreigner’s I Want To Know What Love Is, but then they’ll get into their Honda Civics and cruise down the freeway belting it out.

I know you’re out there. Many of us come alive when we think no one’s looking or we’re in the company of a few close friends. Be PROUD to be a kitchen dancer. You are a master of your own lyrics, artist of your spicy spareribs. You are the leader of your own band, a star shining brightly among the broccoli.

Kitchen dancers– rock on!


Mention of any musical artists and songs does not constitute an endorsement of said artists and songs, their lifestyles, or their beliefs. Songs stick in our heads and these are some of the tunes that find their way into my repertoire with spontaneously revised lyrics.


My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
-Vladimir Nabokov

©2011 H. Hiatt/ All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/

4 thoughts on “Kitchen Dancing

  1. I’m too sexy for my toast, too sexy for my toast, the way I’m disco dancing… I have danced in the kitchen my whole life. I prefer socks to shoes because the moonwalk goes much smoother that way. I have considered therapy, and a career change, because of my incredible kitchen moves, or both at the same time. It’s like having your own little dance club without drunken, scary looking drag queens trying to rub all over you or blinding strobelights trying to knock you into a seizure. I also don’t have to buy the hamburger drinks, or worry about treating it like a piece of meat, because it is a piece of meat. I don’t have to worry about making it back home in one piece when every car has 50 headlights. The salad isn’t gonna try to take my wallet and then viciously headbutt my fists until it takes a nap. I am the dj. My techno club can transform into a rock concert instantly. Rules: Do not chop lettuce while you are listening to Five Finger Death Punch. You will end up with no fingers at all. I think that pretty much covers it. Oh yeah, don’t do what I did last week and leave the blinds open. At least the neighbors were impressed by my stellar gyrating spins. Even if you can’t carry rhythm in a bucket and have two left feet, get out there and have fun. It might just put a smile on your face and a little joy in your heart.


  2. I’d say I will try this the next time I’m in the kitchen, but I need to focus. But I TOTALLY knew what tune to which you were singing before I read the title. That’s just how good you are.


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