Question: Describe your kitchen.
Mark Bittman: I moved this year and I moved from a kitchen
that was six by seven to a kitchen that was about eight by eight. So its an eight by eight? Maybe it's seven by seven; it's
50-something square feet. It has
counters on two sides. It has a
refrigerator on a third side. It
has drawers on a fourth side and it has two doors. It has a sink and a dishwasher and a stove and it has maybe
six feet of counter space and nothing is fancy but it's, for me, nearly
perfect. I mean I wish I could fit
more – like I wish I could fit a table in it and I wish I could fit more people
in it to hang out with while I was cooking but it's pretty great. It's really nice but there's nothing
unusual or remarkable about it.
Question: What inspires you to create a new recipe?
Mark Bittman: The way that recipes happen for me is shopping. It all starts with shopping. So I will go -- I got to Chinatown a lot. I go to decent supermarkets. I go to green markets, and I try to buy everything that looks good that I think I can cook in the next X days. I mean am I cooking at home for the next four days? Because to be home for four days in a row is a lot.
I'll buy four days of food but I'll buy a lot and then I will go home and I will cook what I bought and almost always, a.) because I have like no patience with cooking from recipes, b.) because I'm not that methodical, c.) because I have a bad memory and always think I'm making things up. I can't even duplicate my own recipes. What happens is there's this house full of food and I start cooking and usually interesting things happen. I don’t – brilliant things don’t happen, but interesting things happen, interestingly enough to write about evidently, since people read this stuff.
Question: You often suggest substituting one ingredient for another. Doesn't that change the recipe?
Mark Bittman: Well, I don’t really care. If you substitute one -- if you were making pasta with broccoli and you don’t have broccoli, you want to make pasta with cauliflower, everything about that is the same: the cooking time, the technique, just about everything about it is the same, assuming you know how to trim broccoli and trim cauliflower. Is it a different recipe? You might say it's a different recipe, but almost everything about it is the same and so what if it's a different recipe, it's still good. I mean, I like to say you can vary things as much as you want to, but you have to remember that you can't make a roast chicken without chicken.