We caught up with rapper/singer/flautist/feminist Lizzo on food, music, empowerment and Prince over some bomb jerk chicken and Ting.
By Sharlene Chiu
On May 20th, our pals at the Infatuation will be throwing their first-ever EEEEEATSCON food festival at The Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California. The insanely delicious line-up includes food by Jon & Vinny’s, Shake Shack, Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, Badmaash, Sweetfin Poke, Yeasty Boys, Maple Block Meat Co., and Eataly (who will be making their first ever appearance in Los Angeles!). This glorious day of food porn will be made complete with a couple of badass panels and musical performances, including from one of our most favorite nasty gals, rapper/singer/flautist/feminist/BLM advocate, Lizzo. I caught up with Lizzo at Cha Cha Chicken to talk all things food, music, and empowerment, over jerk chicken and Ting.
What are you the most excited to eat on May 20th?
Shake Shack! They were my first gourmet fast food burger experience and so, I’m super, super into not having to wait in a 5-HOUR line for it. Because if you’re in New York and you want to go to Shake Shack, you have to wait, and it’s your whole day.
What’s the secret to eating as much as possible without falling into a coma, or puking on stage?
The secret is, don’t eat before you perform [laugh], ‘cause I’ve been there. We’ve been so lucky to play so many amazing festivals with great catering, and I remember in Houston, it was the best of all time. There was like BBQ and macaroni and cheese for catering, and normally, it’d be like salad and you know, tofu steaks. SO, I WENT IN. And when you’re on-stage and you’re just feeling that heavy, it’s impossible to do your job. I envy everyone whose job is to eat food, like all the food critics at Infatuation are living the dream. But I can’t eat before I perform [laugh]. I might do a taste – a small bite.
And then after–
After, it’s going down.
Your Instagram is @LizzoBeEating–so it’s a total natural, you and food.
Ya, well, the story is that I didn’t want to get Instagram. I was very anti social media – like I deleted my Twitter and all of that.
Why were you anti-social media?
Because I was just too obsessed with it, and I was like, this doesn’t do anything for me. I didn’t have the career I have now in music, so I was like, “What am I doing, tweeting about my thoughts?” It was a dark time in my life [laugh]. But then I was like, SO anti getting Instagram and everyone was getting it, and I was like, “I’m not gonna get it.” Then one day, I had the idea to be a food critic in Minneapolis, and I was like, “You know what? Maybe, I’ll use Instagram as the platform.” So I got the Instagram, @LizzoBeEating.
Which is so amazing.
I wrote three reviews and then it never happened for me [laugh] but of course, it segued into my musical career, and now I’m just LizzoBeEating!
It might be a bit late but the universe has answered and now you’re working with Infatuation and they do FOOD REVIEWS. So, maybe, there’s still–
Haha there’s still hope. There’s still hope for me but I guess I got to do this music thing first before I get to my dream job, which is eating free food, haha. Cha Cha Chicken, Infatuation, hit me, hit me on my line.
You’ve lived in Detroit, Houston, Minneapolis and now LA, who’s got the better food?
I would say Detroit has the best home-cooking because my Auntie Carmen can throw down, my mama can throw down. I would say that Houston has the best Tex-Mex, the best Mexican, and the best BBQ. If you want comfort food, you can find that in Texas. Minneapolis has really, really real good vegetarian and vegan food options. I really discovered my vegetarianism and my veganism there – I was vegetarian for seven years and I was vegan for a year. Because Minneapolis! I found places that were really creative with how they made vegan food and it wasn’t just fluff, just tofu, just seitan. It was like, finding ways to make vegetable-based proteins. And now, LA. I’m just discovering LA, so I’ll let ya know in a year!
In the spirit of Infatuation, what are your five favorite eats?
In Detroit, PizzaPapalis. The seafood, deep-dish pizza. I remember as a kid, and my family driving out, always, to get that pizza and I didn’t eat seafood, so I’d peel the seafood out of it, so it was just the cheese and the dough, and then when I got older and I started eating the seafood, I tore that thing up. From Houston, Chapultepec. It’s this really delicious Mexican restaurant, and you have to order in Spanish. It’s so bomb. I’d always get the enchiladas, and they’d ask if I want corn or flour and I’d say, “Si” [laugh]. Minneapolis, of course, I have to say Quang. Quang is a Vietnamese bakery and they have the best pho. The most fragrant, delicious pho in the world, and I don’t even have to put any sauces in… and they have the best cookies. They bake these huuuuuge cookies and they’re so thick and they’re so hot, and they just taste like butter. LA, there’s this place called Pine & Crane, have you been there?
LOVE Pine & Crane.
The Dan Dan noodles. It is so bomb and it’s one of those things I can repeatedly eat. Oh dude, and the beef rolls. Woo! The beef rolls.
This is for all my Texans out there – Whataburger! Yeah baby, Whataburger is the best fast food restaurant on the planet.
Better than In-N-Out?
That’s the question! Someone came up to me and was like, “Whataburger or In-N-Out?” And I was like, “WHAT.A.BUR.GER.” It’s just better – it’s better ingredients, they’re not all over the place, they’re just in Texas, so they can focus there, and they have breakfast taquitos with cheese and egg and hashbrowns in the them. So delicious. Oh! And a honey butter chicken biscuit!!!
People might not think of Minneapolis as a cultural hot spot but you were able to be a part of a really inspiring community there –
Yeah, you think of Minnesota as, you know, a predominantly mid-Western, white, kinda hipster place. Or, even beyond hipster, just kind of like, white Middle America. It is, but when you focus on the Twin Cities, you’ll find a lot, A LOT, of culture. Like it surprised me, coming in and finding that there was a whole hip hop scene that was hugely diverse.
And it’s in Minneapolis where you got to meet and work with Prince–what was that like?
It was a big deal and it’s still a big deal. As an artist, I feel validated within myself. I still listen to Boy Trouble and remember how I felt when I recorded the song and singing into his microphone, being in Paisley Park, and then being able to go back to Paisley Park, repeatedly, and seeing him perform on a piano, it was great. It was a great time in my life that I will use to motivate me for the rest of my life.
Your honesty with beauty insecurities and embracing your blackness has been incredibly empowering, why is it important for you to be open about that?
It’s important because it’s who I am. It’s the most obvious thing about me, it’s in my DNA. If I tried to hide it, or talk about something else, especially during this time, then I wouldn’t be true to myself. I think right now, everyone’s discovering how to be true to themselves because we’ve been in this society that’s been so blanketed. We weren’t able to see differences and somebody in middle-America in white suburbia wasn’t able to know what it’s like for someone like Kendrick Lamar in Compton, and for them, now, to be exposed to something like that and for it not to be called Devil music, or it being illegal to hear, people are able to see other people’s perspectives. If I were to try to ignore that, and not be apart of this new age of the individual, people could tell and be like, you’re a phony.
Follow Lizzo on Instagram.