Mark Bittman on Cooking for Hitler and Obama


Question: Whom do you most enjoy cooking for?


Mark\r\nBittman:  It’s a toss up.  My wife is the greatest dining\r\ncompanion and a total joy to cook for and she's a good eater and we really have\r\nfun together, but I have to say that my kids, who grew up eating my food and\r\ncan call and say I'm coming over, could you make something Asian or I'm coming\r\nover I need this pasta dish or I'm coming over and could you just – could we\r\nhave one of those – it's really nice and if there are people who don’t like to\r\neat I don’t want to cook for them. \r\n


I don’t want to\r\nhave to convince anybody that what I'm making is good.  I know it's good.  I usually enjoy it.  If someone enjoys eating, they'll enjoy\r\neating the stuff I cook.  If they\r\ndon’t, something is wrong somewhere. \r\nThere's not – Julia Child used to say, "The great thing about\r\ncooking is you get to eat your mistakes."


The thing is\r\nthat if you take care in cooking and if you know what you're doing, even a\r\nlittle bit, unless you burn something there are very few things that wind up so\r\nbad that you can't enjoy them. \r\nVery few.  So I mean I'm\r\nlucky enough to have been doing this long enough and writing about it and\r\nlearning from other people and thinking about it so that generally speaking the\r\nstuff I do is pretty good and the people I cook for tend to enjoy it.  But I said before it's not brilliant,\r\nit's not earth shattering it's just good food.


Question: What was it like hanging out with\r\nGwyneth Paltrow and Mario Batali in Spain?


Mark\r\nBittman:  Well, Mario and I have known each other\r\nprobably ten years and we've gotten increasingly busy, so we don’t see each\r\nother that much.  So it was really\r\na treat to hang out so much and I know from my – the people who – I was going\r\nto say my fans, which I guess is right, but anyway.  I know from people who've watched "Spain on the Road Again"\r\nand my other TV shows that everybody thinks that TV is the most fun thing in\r\nthe world and everybody's completely jealous of, "Oh, well you got to hang\r\nout with Mario and Gwyneth and who's that beautiful woman and the food in\r\nSpain must be so amazing."


The\r\nfact is television is a tremendous amount of work.  And for every minute on screen there is an hour of\r\nwork.  So for every 60 minutes on\r\nscreen, there's a week of work and it really is like that.  So we did a huge amount of driving and\r\nthere's a lot of setup time and not exactly rehearsal but figuring out what\r\nwe're going to do.  So none of that\r\nwas my favorite part.


My favorite part\r\nwas nighttime when everything was done and we all got drunk together.  So that was really great and Mario, of\r\ncourse, can drink anyone under the table. \r\nI think he'll admit to this, maybe it's not an admission, I think he'll\r\nbe proud of this.  Whereas I can't\r\ndrink anyone under the table plus I go to bed earlier than anybody else.  I go to bed earlier than anybody.


So we'd finish\r\nthe shoot, we'd have a bite to eat, we'd have a fair amount of wine.  It would be 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, I'd go\r\nto bed.  Mario would be up until\r\nfour in the morning.  Everyone else\r\nwas waking up with black eyes and broken shoulders, he was always in great\r\nshape.  So that was sort of what it\r\nwas like.


Question: If you could cook for anyone, living\r\nor not, whom would you serve?


Mark\r\nBittman:  So I could say I would cook for Adolph\r\nHitler and serve him poison.  I\r\ncould say that.  I could say quite\r\nsincerely -- see I don’t think you could influence people really, I mean I –\r\nthe obvious answer, an obvious answer is well, I would cook for President Obama\r\nand set him straight on a number of issues but he's already got a lot of people\r\nsetting him straight. 

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nI think the people I'd most like to cook for would be my maternal\r\ngrandparents, who I loved very much and have been dead a long time and who I\r\nthink, in some ways, were responsible a lot for my personality and a lot for\r\nthe way I handle myself and also for my love of food and saying that makes me\r\nthink I should go cook for my parents more often than I do.  They're alive, fortunately, so I'm\r\ngoing to go and [do that]... \r\n

The writer talks about whom he most enjoys cooking for, drinking with Mario Batali in Spain, and whom he'd serve if he could cook for anyone.

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