Claudia Gonson is the drummer, band manager and occasional vocalist for pop lo-fi electronic rock group the Magnetic Fields. Since their 1999 release of 69 Love Songs, a three-disc paean to the slings and arrows of romance, the quartet has played to sold-out audiences across the globe. Though that album is just one of eight they’ve released since 1991, it remains a touchstone of concise, urbane songwriting and genre-cribbing production, using synthesizer sympathies to explore l’amour from every aesthetic angle—country croons, pop proclamations, show-tune shibboleths.
Gonson stays busy keeping both the beat and the books, licensing the band’s prolific songbook for film and TV and working out their not-frequent-enough-for-our-tastes tour schedule. We’re counting down the days ’til January, when the Fields’s new synth-less album hits stores (and, inevitably, Pirate Bay). Meanwhile we stopped by Gonson’s Park Slope apartment to scope her fridge.
My food lifestyle ebbs and flows, like anybody’s. I go to the market and for a few days I’m flush and then I eat nothing but crackers for a couple of days. I just happened by complete coincidence to be in the “cracker mode” on Saturday so I replenished and happen to have a good stock right now. The thing about living alone is that you can’t buy a whole lot of anything, so I’ve been working really hard to just buy one piece of fruit, one of everything.
I go in and out of eating out a lot. It’s another ebb and flow thing. Right now I’m enjoying making prepared foods for myself at home, like I’ll make dishes and leave them in the fridge and eat them over a couple days. But dinners, it’s hard to eat in because I’m usually being asked to meet somebody. I don’t tend to go to a Mario Batali restaurant. But, I should say, Al di Là is incredible and you can go for lunch now!
I’m a big fan of making chicken at home but I think I might be even more of a fan of buying rotisserie chicken at Coco Roco, which is one block from my house. I’d really like them to consider making them organic because I eat them so often I feel like I’m going to grow a third limb if I’m not careful with whatever they’re pumping chickens with nowadays. But they’re really the best rotisserie chickens I’ve ever had—they’re amazing.
I read that you should eat jellyfish because they’re, like, taking over the world. So last night I was at a Chinese restaurant and I ordered jellyfish and I was like, “Ugh! I have to eat this because it’s taking over the world!” It’s just gross. It’s like chewing on rubber.
The one thing I miss from Cambridge is the fish. The fish scene in New York, I’m sorry, is so sad. I was a fishmonger in Cambridge and we would just eat raw fish out of the tubs. You know how when you eat an apple in the fall and then you eat an apple in spring, you might as well be eating two different fruits? That’s what it’s like for me.
I have this little Meyer lemon tree going, which I bought through the Internet, that actually has lemons on it. It’s actually dying. I’ve only had it for a year. I got it for my birthday last year. It gave me three lemons last summer, now it’s making about nine but I don’t think they’ll come to fruition. My cat’s playing with two tiny little baby lemons I just pulled off.
These Meyer lemons, which come from the Park Slope Food Co-op, which I’m a member of, they’re so amazing. You can actually eat them like an orange. And we will, today! Very, very different smell from the normal lemon. I like to just eat them or squeeze them into a spritzer so I can really enjoy how delicious they are. You can’t get the smell into the camera, that’s a shame. Did you get pictures of the lemons? I have a big Meyer lemon agenda.
I wanna go on about these grapefruits for a second, because they’re the most exciting thing in my life. They come from Sun Groves in Orlando, which is where my grandfather bought them for me all during the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s and into the oughts. All my life, this man sent these big, big things of grapefruit to us. This is my third order from Sun Groves this year. This is how much grapefruit I eat. I’ve sort of turned my friends on to it. I mean, I get like 40 at a time and about 20 go to my friends ’cause they’re like “Oh, your grapefruits are in!” so now I have like three left. They’re a whole other level of amazing.
I started making grapefruit trees ’cause it was a bit of an homage to my grandpa ’cause I was making trees out of grapefruits he was sending me. These two are eunuchs because I made them from actual seeds; they’re not grafted. Mr. Grapefruit on the left was born in 1998. He’s fucking old! Maybe even ’97. He’s like 12 years old! And the little baby sun grapefruit I made the next year. I made many, many of these and gave them to friends.
I like really thin, nutty brown breads. You know those super-dense thin-sliced German breads? A thing I really like to do: I almost burn it. I toast it till it’s super, super hard and, I can’t explain it, it’s amazing.
I’m a big fan of Yo-Goat. It’s cultured goat’s milk, as it says! It’s not sweetened. It’s salty. A salty yogurt drink that I just find very yummy. It’s probably not good for the environment to be packaged as singles but it’s great because I can just buy it and drink it. Sometimes I buy prepackaged things. You know, just ’cause it’s easy.
I like to make salads. If you have spinach, cottage cheese and sunflower seeds then you’ve got what you need to begin to make the most delicious salad ever. A really great addition is hard-boiled eggs. It must be because I’m a Jew, but I’m just in heaven if I have hard-boiled eggs, cottage cheese and spinach in my salad. Also I really love these crunchy sprouts made by the Sproutman, which I get at the co-op. You can hear them! They’re crunchy! It’s sprouted lentils, green peas and adzuki beans. Also cherry tomatoes, red pepper and some onion: I’m in heaven.
Fennel salad! I’m really into simple, like I don’t do a lot of spicing and stuff. It makes this delicious cold salad. If you cut it small enough it has a celery-like crunch. I can eat it for two or three days. It’s a great keep-it-in-my-fridge. I buy several at once because I eat ’em really fast.
Greens & Beans
I’m just sort of starting to get into stuff involving—what’s that stuff called?—lacinato kale. This one’s a little withered. I wanna figure out how to do more involving kale and lentils, making stews where there’s sort of like this soggy greens in there. I bought these lentils and I would’ve done it but I fell asleep too early last night. I did it once before and it came out awful. They actually cooked much, much faster than I thought. I’m just starting working with beans. A bunch of people on Facebook gave me some ideas.
My best friend, Lindsey, is a professional cook and one fun thing I have right now is homemade catsup. I don’t know how she did it but she made it.
I want to go off about these guys because I love them. Persian cucumbers. excellent snack food! You just eat ’em like a carrot. I love things that go crunch!
Like everyone else in Park Slope, I’m addicted to kombucha. I bought this one but I’m trying not to drink it, otherwise I’d be drinking one every day of the week. I’m not sure if that’s very good for you.
Oh, here’s some incredibly ancient Super 8 film. I was a mad Super 8 person in high school and college. I’m curious to know what would happen if I exposed this stuff now. I’m sure it would just be white, right? And here’s 620 for a Brownie box camera. Mmm, love it. I haven’t used it in years but this one you can super triple expose and advance it at your own speeds, like advance it half a centimeter and have people going up up up the frame.
I do really love canned salmon. I’m a big fan of this stuff because I think it might be better for the environment for some reason. I don’t know why I think that. And people tell me it has less mercury in it.
Bags of Leaves
I really, really enjoy tea, so I have a lot of it. I have really groovy weird ones that blow up in the cup. You drop one of those in the cup like a bomb. This came from a really famous tea place in Paris, Mariage Frères. My friend brought it back. I’m a big fan of this ginger: “improves digestion.” I’m pretty uncaffeinated except for green; I have a ton of green. These are all greens, as you can see. It’s the green bin. I also really love, what’s it called, rooibos. I like having that as a chai, so you don’t have to pretend to have coffee.
Over the years I’ve gotten a bunch of stuff with Marimekko designs from family and friends, like mugs and clothes and things. Marimekko is a Finnish designer who burst on the American scene in the 1960s when she put a dress on Jackie [Kennedy]. And the first Scandinavian design store was in Cambridge. My mother, along with every other female in Cambridge, purchased an embarrassing number of Marimekko items for the house and for her body. I don’t know why I’m going on a Marimekko rant, but I could go on a Marimekko rant to anyone who asks, so might as well.
I’m a big fan of lingonberry. It’s part of my whole Scandinavian thing. Lingonberry: extra tasty—if you’re Jewish—with sour cream on blintzes! I like things that aren’t too sweet. It’s slightly bitter, almost winey.
Under the Magnetic Fields’ Magnets
That Jeff Koons postcard’s been there for years! Things sort of build up on my fridge. There’s a lot of memories. Like going to see Kiki and Herb—when was that?—like two thousand billion years ago. All these things I’ve done over the years. Here’s Neil Gaiman’s little drawing of Cthulhu saying “bon appétit.”
There’s a huge fermentation craze going on, so I bought this delicious organic sauerkraut, which has yet to be opened. I bought it like three weeks ago. At some point I should probably eat that. Luckily, it’s fermented—it’ll last forever!