Love or Hate Classical Music // Sirloin Steak and Big White Bean Salad

You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody that hates peaches.

– Dita Von Teese

What is it with classical music that the people that don’t like it, really hate it? What I want to say here is about neighbours that think playing classical music is so bad that you should be put into prison for it.

You may think I’m exaggerating, and even though this news is already a few years old in Barcelona, here is an example. A few years ago, Laia, a pianist, was sued by her neighbour for playing the piano, for acoustic contamination. Not only did her neighbour want to put her in prison, but there were also rumours that a new law was going to be invented so that nobody at all could play the piano in Barcelona.

Thankfully Laia was acquitted, and the rumour was either a rumour or got laughed off by the justice system.

Pianos can be a noisy affair, but modern day technologies have brought new solutions so that you don’t need to soundproof your room. You can have an electric piano, a softer sounding piano, or a hybrid piano.

Unfortunately I currently have an electric piano, which is the worst solution, because they sound nowhere as good as a real one. However, they are really neighbour friendly. There is no real hammer banging onto a real string, so there is no real soundwave propagating through the building. It’s like a TV, so if you adjust the volume low enough, it shouldn’t bother anyone. You can also plug in headphones so only you hear what’s going on.

Softer sounding pianos just, well, don’t sound so loud. The ones I’ve heard, you can barely hear them in the room next door, let alone in the apartment next door.

The best solution, which is what I want in the future, is a silent or hybrid piano. These are real acoustic pianos where you can press down on a pedal, so it detaches from the acoustic system and becomes an electric piano. That way you can play to your hearts content at any time of the day or night, and then reattach to the acoustic system during the day when you want to play your song nicely.

In my case, I’m very lucky that not only have my neighbours never complained about my piano playing, they actually compliment me when they see me in the hallway and say I should play some more. Also, lucky for them, if I’m going to do a hundred boring repetitions I’ll usually put on my headphones, and I only practice scales about once a year. Yeah, my teacher isn’t too pleased with me on the not doing scales part.

In the past, I haven’t been so lucky. I have lived in other places with housemates where, as soon as they realise I’m playing the piano,which would take a  while to realise as I had the volume on so low, they would instantly tell me to stop playing. Just because so. I’ve been so careful that these people have only heard a few notes from me. They have never heard me play a whole piece. They didn’t even want to bother to try and listen.

Here’s the thing I don’t get. Why is that so unacceptable? But then why can they watch a movie on TV, with lots of loud violent gunfire, with the volume on 4 times higher, at 2 am? Or why can other neighbours put on their rock music (hey, if it’s good music, I don’t mind) so loudly that you can’t hear your own music? Why is that acceptable? Why is it that no matter how good you are, – and I’m pretty good – practicing a Chopin prelude can bring so much hate?

Sirloin steak with white beans salad

Sirloin steak and white bean salad

If you thought that salads where exclusively a matter of lightness and dietness, this one will give you second thoughts. If you hate salads, you might love this one. This salad was the result of three simultaneous situations:

  1. Days ago we had gone for a dinner with friends in La Taina. The food was utterly amazing, as always, and so plentiful that we ordered a doggy bag (yes…) for the huge sirloin steaks. I realised there was leftover sirloin steak that needed to be used up.
  2. I was in a rush, as nearly always, so I needed to make something quite fast.
  3. I am in the middle of an obsession, which is turning into a long term affair, with pouring spicy honey and mustard sauces over as many dishes as possible. This salad seemed like a perfect candidate.

Ingredients (per serving):

150g sirloin steak, 150g big white beans, 5 cherry tomatoes, lettuce, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon Original Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes, salt, black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon vinegar, 3/4 teaspoon olive oil

Wash and cut the lettuce and cherry tomatoes. Rinse the white beans. I simply used some from a jar as they are excellent here in Spain. Arrange the lettuce on a plate. Add the white beans on top. Arrange the cherry tomatoes around them.

Cook the sirloin steak – or in my case, reheat it. I reheated it on the stove as I actually do not own a microwave. Cut into cubes and place on top of the white beans.

Mix the rest of the ingredients in a small dish. Stir until it becomes sort of like a vinaigrette texture. Pour on top.

Thank you for reading!

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  1. Sunny 2014-07-04 at 20:16

    Huh, really? People have complained about you playing the piano at 2PM??? That’s just weird! I don’t see a problem with that!

    I’m not really a fan of beans, but this idea is great! Never used steak in a salad. I’ve got to try it with something else 🙂

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-07-04 at 20:25

      Haha I made a mistake, I meant to write 2am, will change now! On the other hand, no one has ever complained about me playing at 2am, as I said my current neighbours are really cool and say I should play more 🙂 Instead of beans this could go well with quinoa maybe, or boiled cold potatoes??

      1. Sunny 2014-07-04 at 20:36

        Hahaha OK I don’t know about Barcelona, but here you can’t make any noise after 10PM. That means I always tune the TV waaaay down after that!

        I vote YES to quinoa and potato!!!

        1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-07-04 at 20:45

          Yeah you can’t after 10pm here either, which is why I put on the headphones so there’s no way anyone will hear anything except me. With that said, we have a neighbour with a very loud voice that has friends over every night and we can hear every word of their conversations (and she’s 3 stories up, so imagine that!). She’s American and I think they think no one else can understand what they are saying… wrong!
          Gosh I’m having a rant today!
          Great, so you have your adapted recipe then 🙂

          1. Sunny 2014-07-04 at 21:01

            People say I’m loud, but I think that neighbor of yours still beats me :p

  2. Michelle 2014-07-05 at 03:24

    Good lord! I used to live next door to a guy getting an advanced piano degree, and I loved it. I was so sad when he moved.

  3. chef mimi 2014-07-05 at 15:18

    I was raised on Chopin, so I don’t understand either. So sad. But that is one beautiful salad! Love the chili flakes!

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-07-06 at 23:15

      I’m love Chopin so I’ll never understand either. The chili flakes was actually quite funny, I bought them especially for a recipe (that I still haven’t made…) and at the shop they only had the HUGE sized bag of chili flakes. I bought it because it was cheap but thought I’ll never use it up. Well, now I’m so obsessed with them that I wouldn’t be surprised if I do finish them within a few months! 🙂 Have a lovely week xx

  4. pianolearner 2014-07-05 at 18:22

    I got google to translate the news story. This is how the first sentence came out: “The Court of Girona has acquitted po faults testing M. Laia, the pianist who faced Puigcerdà 5 ½ years in prison for molesting a neighbor who reported that bothered him their essays.”

    As you know Humphry is a traditional piano. He is also really loud for some reason, so I tend to play him with the left pedal pressed down most of the time. I only play between 08:00 and 10:00pm, but I think my neighbour might be a little deaf anyway.

    I can understand noisy neighbour complaints, but 7 1/2 years!!! I’m glad common sense prevailed.

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-07-06 at 23:17

      Hahaha sometimes google does decent translations, but other times they just make you scratch your head! Maybe your neighbour isn’t deaf, maybe they are like my current neighbours, they actually enjoy it!
      I’m glad the judge had common sense too.

  5. Guillermina Bósquez Stover 2014-07-06 at 00:43

    My goodness gracious. Here in the U.S. of A. we have to contend with LOUD, I mean LOUD THUDDING in-your-heart noise from cars playing their rap so-called music…and someone in Barcelona complained about classical music? Wow. I am shocked, totally shocked. And here in this town there isn’t even a curfew…so our neighbors can be NOISY. Luckily, most are not.

    The salad looks scrumptious, Sofia…

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-07-06 at 23:22

      Oh gosh, loud thudding rap music is not my piece of cake either… Really, no curfew? Here you have to lower your volumes after 10pm, which makes sense!

  6. Pemberley Cup & Cakes by Rosa 2014-07-06 at 20:55

    I don’t quite agree with your saying that watching a movie on TV really loud (no matter which the origin or movie genre) at 2 am or listening to music (again, no matter what style) so loudly you can’t even hear your thoughts is acceptable. Respect is acceptable for me. And then there is the time. You can’t expect to live in an absolutely silent atmosphere when you live surrounded by other people who breath and talk and produce sounds of any kind.
    So well, that said I must admit I’m delighted with your recipe. Steak in a salad! Really cool, Sofia <3
    Un beso and keep playing your piano so beautifully…

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-07-06 at 21:47

      Yeah, actually I said it in the ironic sense that it’s ok, it’s not ok, but it’s the people that refuse to hear a single note the ones that will put on their TV really loud in the middle of the night. I was writing it in the middle of a grumpy moment… the truth is that I actually like listening to the noise of the neighbours, the normal everyday sounds, because that way I know they are alive and well 🙂
      It’s a pretty cool salad, thanks Rosa! Un beso <3

      1. Pemberley Cup & Cakes by Rosa 2014-07-06 at 21:54

        Yeah, I know exactly what you mean… It seems we’re used to those ‘acceptable’ noises but complain when regular life happens; people playing beautifully the piano, babies crying… En fin…
        Enjoy your brand new week! Un beso

        1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-07-06 at 23:18

          Yeah, babies crying is also regular life, I don’t know why people would complain about that, they probably did it too when they were a baby…

  7. Liz 2014-07-07 at 06:22

    stunning salad–love how the beef is cooked perfectly. Yum. And the piano thing? No idea why someone would object. I wish I could hear you play! Do you have anything on youtube?

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-07-07 at 20:21

      Hi Liz, Lets say this salad is a “complete meal”. I’ll write to you when I have a moment regarding the playing! 😉

  8. milkandbun 2014-07-14 at 14:09

    I wish I could play piano! 😀 The salad looks tasty, I’m using meat or steak leftovers in salads too.

  9. Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward 2014-07-16 at 19:47

    Keep playing… and eating that gorgeous food! I think the salad would be awesome with any protein topping, from seared tuna to chicken. MMMMMM.

  10. Dalo 2013 2014-07-20 at 00:37

    The steak looks so good, wish I could have that salad in front of me right now…it looks healthy and delicious.

    Funny thing about pianos and music. Years ago, my neighbor use to play classical music on her piano, which was wonderful to hear…but she’d play at 7am prior to her going to work, which was a problem when I went to bed at 3am. To make matters worse, only a thin wall separated her “piano room” and my bedroom. Alas, she was very nice and asked me about it a few days after she began this routine and we worked it out 🙂

    1. Sofia 2014-07-22 at 00:02

      Oh the salad was great!
      If it’s an unsocial hour I would only play the piano with my headphones! Then when I see my neighbours, I often say to them to please don’t hesitate to tell me to stop if my piano playing ever bothers them. They only say the opposite, that they love it so keep on playing 🙂 I think I’ve pretty lucky on that sense. I’m glad you got it worked out with your neighbour too 🙂


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