Meet Catalina, One of Our Favorite Foodies and a Very Talented Up-And-Coming Artist!
Good Afternoon Catalina! Thank you so much for talking with us! What was a typical dinner or family meal like for you growing up in Santiago?
More so than dinner, I think the most typical family meal I had growing up was when we would tomar la once. It directly translates to elevenses, but it's sort of an afternoon tea time, and not just any tea time; a very abundant one. My mom would bring water to a boil, while we'd be toasting hallullas or marraqueta (typical Chilean breads), as the butter was softening. She'd also prepare some mashed paltas (what we call avocados in Chile) while I took cheese and ham out of the fridge. The water was for the Nescafé coffee always on deck. It can't be an once without it. Not in our household, at least. My mom, dad and sister would gather in our small eat-in kitchen to chat over once every day. When we'd hang out with my mother's side of the family for any big family gatherings, they would always end up with a big once involving more Nescafé, tea, different types of cake, ice cream, paltas, cheese, ham, bread, you name it! I told you, abundant! So much so it could count as dinner sometimes.
That sounds so AWESOME! So when and how did your passion for food and music start?
My passion for music began when I was little because my parent were avid music lovers. My mom and I would take turns listening to our favorite cassettes in the car. My dad was a very amateur piano player, but he taught himself how to play by ear. So even though I know I got it from them, I truly don't know how it all started. Looking back on it now, it feels organic how I developed a passion to sing for myself and sing for others. I guess I enjoyed being a listener so much, that I thought it'd be great to provide the same artistic service for people. It filled my heart with joy and was an outlet for me to grow as a person, even though I was terrified to perform live until I was 17 or so, haha. I wouldn't change this career path for the world.
I've always enjoyed food, for both how delicious it is and for how it brings people together to connect for hours on end. I think that once I am much older, I'd like to pursue cooking a little more seriously. Or at least half-seriously. In college, I had to fend for myself and cook because let's face it, dining hall food isn't always the best. Plus, my roommates and I lived in a beach house with a wonderful kitchen, so that passion also kind of developed organically. It coincided with a period in my life where I was searching to be healthier and live a more balance lifestyle through Weight Watchers. I think that was a part of this passion, as well. I found balance between indulging and healthy eating through cooking!
What does your cooking playlist look like?
Oh wow, I have never thought of this before. I actually don't have a cooking playlist but today is a great day to start! I'll be adding some Lianne La Havas (Green and Gold), Natalia La Fourcade (Derecho De Nacimiento) and perhaps a little Duke Ellington (It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing) and Ella Fitzgerald (Cheek To Cheek), too. That'll get me swaying and stirring.
Is there an ingredient you are really enjoying cooking with at the moment?
Garlic and onions are a must! You can ask my husband, I sneak them in every single dish I make. They are great foods for your immune system, too, and I can vouch for that because I haven't gotten sick in the past two years (knock on wood). Besides, they add a perfect amount of classic flavor, in my humble opinion. Not too bold, not too plain.
What three things can you always find in your home refrigerator?
Eggs, cheese, and butter. You know, some breakfast staples!
Tell us about Chilean cuisine, what would you say is some of your favorite foods?
Chilean cuisine features a lot of meat, fish, and tons of fresh produce! We are such a long country with different climates and that plays a huge role in our agriculture. There's also a variety of wine to accompany your meals and a traditional cocktail called Pisco Sour. Fun fact, pisco is a liquor made out of grapes. It's so hard to pick a favorite food, so if you don't mind, I can break it down for you!
For an appetizer, Machas a la parmesana are amazing. A macha is a saltwater clam native to Chile. They get sprinkled with parmesan cheese and baked to perfection! For lunch, you can't go wrong with a Filete a lo pobre, which is steak with caramelized onions, french fries and a fried egg on top. An empanada de pino is also one of my personal favorites! They have ground beef, onions, olives, and half a boiled egg. My favorite Chilean snack are Ramitas. If you saw them, you'd think "oh, potato sticks", but they're not a crispy and thin as the ones you guys have here in the US. I haven't found anything that compares, sadly. Then finally for a dessert, I'd go with a slice of panqueque manjar cake, which is essentially a thousands of thin crepe-like layers separate by traditional Chilean dulce de leche called manjar. A glass of Carménere to top this all off!
What is your guilty pleasure food?
No guilt! Everything's accepted on my table.
Tell us about one memorable meal you’ve had while touring. What did it involve?
Fromage Garage "Grill Shop & Belly Repair" was a pretty memorable tour meal. My husband Jon and I were playing an acoustic duo show in New York City on a weekend, and scouting around we found this little car shop turned into a grilled cheese spot in Brooklyn. We both love grilled cheeses, so there was nowhere to go wrong there. We sat at the small quaint bar where we could watch owner, Eddy, making the sandwiches and conversation sparked up. Him and I bonded over being hispanic, and he was an avid music lover, as well. He opened up to tell us his story and we told him ours. Eddy played debut album from start to finish through the shop's sound system. It was an unforgettable experience because of the instant organic connection between the three of us (and the grilled cheeses were BALLER and made with love). Unfortunately, Fromage Garage has closed since, so I hope Eddy is doing well with his next adventure!
If you designed your own walking food tour of your favorite city, which restaurants/food sellers would be on your list of places to visit?
Man, that is a difficult question. Can it be a driving tour? If so, I'll go with Nashville since that is where I'm living in currently. On my list you'd find the following: Bongo East, Dose, Mas Tacos, Oscar's Tacos, Crying Wolf, Five Daughters, and Two Ten Jack. If you are down to make it out to the West End side of town, I would recommend hitting up Sushi Train for their all-you-can eat, conveyor belt sushi and Chinese food dinner special. Then you can stop at 51 Kitchen and Bar, solely because they have an actual dog park attached to their patio, so you can go out for a night on the town with your pooch and drink some wine. If driving a little outside of Nashville is up your alley, check out La Siesta Restaurant for some Peruvian grub and Karin's Kustard (they have lemon and strawberry flavored custard!!!) in Smyrna.
What is the craziest thing you've ever eaten?
I am a sushi lover, but Octopus sashimi is not my thing. I don't think it gets any crazier than that!
Is there anything you just will not eat?
Cilantro. I'll eat it if I have to, like if it's on something I ordered I won't ask to take it off or take it back. But if I can easily pick it out myself, I will. And honestly, I would much rather never see it again. It haunts me in every taco I ever get. Cilantro nightmares!
If you could be on a reality cooking show, what would it be?
Either “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri because A) Guy is hilarious and B) you get to eat so many ridiculously mouthwatering things...or “Chopped.” I'm a pretty good improvisational cook, so I feel like I'd do fairly well in the competition!
“Blood, Sweat, Tears” came out on January 19th, which pays a homage to Chile, tell us a little about the writing process for it. Have you been able to perform it it Chile yet, or do you look forward to being able to one day?
"Blood, Sweat, Tears," was the first song I collaboratively wrote with other people. It was with Jon, Evan, and Justin, my amazing band, that I created this song with. I brought the finger picked guitar riff to practice one day and we expanded on it to be the beautiful and uplifting tune you hear today! Lyrically, the words blood, sweat, and tears along with the melody they're sung with was what came into my mind first. Then I went on describing Chile somewhat to a geographical degree, which is hard because it's such a long country with a variety of different characteristics but, I was able to condense it all. Hope I did it justice! And although the song is very personal to me and where I come from, it was written to apply to people all over the globe. It's somewhat of a coming of age story. Home goes from being a physical place to being several different places over the years as one may move, but it also goes to have an emotional connection and significance on top of it all. I did have the pleasure of performing that song this past December in Chile. I was able to go back home for the holidays after two years of not being able to travel back there, so I was able to perform an acoustic version of it in my hometown of Santiago at one of the biggest jazz clubs in the city in front of a very sweet and captive audience.
It truly was a full-circle moment.
Your latest single, “Think You'd Fool Me,” was just released. What was your favorite part about recording and writing this song.
This song was pure fun! It came from a completely different soundscape from what it became now, to be honest. But that's the exciting part of the writing process, taking it from its bare bones to its fully fleshed form. "Think You'd Fool Me" was born out of a funky and somewhat disco feel. It was when we were tracking down the drums during the recording process that I had drummer extraordinaire, Miles McPherson, experiment with a much more latin-sounding groove for choruses and bridge. Then we laid our bare bone parts on this new base, and sprinkled it with magic! And by magic I am really referring to the sassy back-up vocals, the latin and soulful piano, the experimental guitar layers and tones and the "dance your booty off" bass line. Let's not forget the vibra slap, which brings they listeners out of the bridge and back into the last chorus. That magical instrument has inspired me to begin learning percussion. I am looking up to Sheila E (Prince's protegee for inspiration on this one). Folks will have to come out to a show or listen to the new tunes to see this unfold!
Do you have any tour plans coming up? Where can fans see you perform?
I do have tour/show plans and I am working on them. I do all my own booking so sometimes it can get challenging balancing all the different aspects of the creative side of the job, and the business side (on top of my 9-to-5), ha! But mini-weekend tours over the summer are in the works in surrounding states like Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, and Alabama, as well as other cities in Tennessee. I am also working on some fun Spring and Summer shows within the Nashville area. Coming up though, folks can catch us live at Knoxville's Funny Ears Fringe Festival on March 25th, The 5 Spot in East Nashville on March 28th, and in Atlanta on March 31st. For future dates, just peep on my website!
Finally, if you could be sponsored by one food/drink brand who would it be and why?
Ahh I would love for Concha y Toro to sponsor me! *wink, wink, nudge, nudge, amigos* They have a line of really AMAZING and affordable wines called Frontera, which they import into the US from Chile. I just love wine, people love wine, and we could all sit and talk over wine after a show! One of their blends made it into a song of mine titled "Poor Boy" from my 2015 debut album. If you can ever find it, Red Vintage is the one to have!
MORE ABOUT CATALINA:
At the very young age of five, Catalina and her mom would take turns listening to their favorite cassettes when driving around Santiago. It is due to this and her parents’ love for music that she grew up surrounded by the sounds of Motown, Aretha Franklin, Barry White, Michael Jackson and Madonna. Now, not only has she grown as a person, artist and entrepreneur, but so has her musical palette. Catalina’s music is rooted in a soulful pop/R&B with her own latina demeanor.
Think You'd Fool Me - Inspired in a 'catfish' situation, Catalina took it upon herself to create an anthem for people that have been fooled once, and not only will they not be fooled twice, but they will come back swinging. She wanted this song to inspire her friend and all else who have ever experienced a similar scenario. The storyline of the song isn't portrayed only through the lyrics, but the music matches the tone of empowerment alright. Between the sass heard in the brass and backup vocals, you have a haunting guitar lingering through the chorus, which culminates in the latin and suspense-filled bridge building to catch “desperado”. Which is the perfect way to describe this character both in English and Spanish: an outlaw running away in a desperate frenzy.
Blood, Sweat, Tears - Provides closure to feelings Catalina had surrounding my departure from Chile in 2011.This Chilean artist will be making a homecoming to her heritage, and to herself; as a woman, a daughter, a sister, a wife, an immigrant, a lover, a fighter, through her new song “Blood, Sweat, Tears”. Catalina uses specific geographic characteristics of her home country to demonstrate personal growth achieved through observation, resiliency, happenstance, and purpose, which applies to everyone’s paths in life, not just her own. Sonically, this tune will take you for an uplifting and empowering journey that will culminate in a celebration of self discovery with Catalina’s heart wrenching belts, with a male chorus behind her with an encouraging ‘Sangre, Sudor, Lágrimas’.
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