The Art of the Recipe
Question: Describe your kitchen.\r\n\r\n
Mark Bittman: I moved this year and I moved from a kitchen\r\nthat 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\r\n50-something square feet. It has\r\ncounters on two sides. It has a\r\nrefrigerator on a third side. It\r\nhas drawers on a fourth side and it has two doors. It has a sink and a dishwasher and a stove and it has maybe\r\nsix feet of counter space and nothing is fancy but it's, for me, nearly\r\nperfect. I mean I wish I could fit\r\nmore – like I wish I could fit a table in it and I wish I could fit more people\r\nin it to hang out with while I was cooking but it's pretty great. It's really nice but there's nothing\r\nunusual or remarkable about it.
Question: What inspires you to create a new\r\nrecipe?\r\n\r\n
Mark\r\nBittman: The way that\r\nrecipes happen for me is shopping. \r\nIt all starts with shopping. \r\nSo 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\r\nlooks good that I think I can cook in the next X days. I mean am I cooking at home for the\r\nnext four days? Because to be home\r\nfor four days in a row is a lot.\r\n\r\n
I'll buy four\r\ndays of food but I'll buy a lot and then I will go home and I will cook what I\r\nbought and almost always, a.) because I have like no patience with cooking from\r\nrecipes, b.) because I'm not that methodical, c.) because I have a bad memory and\r\nalways think I'm making things up. \r\nI can't even duplicate my own recipes. What happens is there's this house full of food and I start\r\ncooking and usually interesting things happen. I don’t – brilliant things don’t happen, but interesting\r\nthings happen, interestingly enough to write about evidently, since people read\r\nthis stuff.\r\n\r\n
Question: You often suggest substituting one\r\ningredient for another. Doesn't that change the recipe?\r\n\r\n
Mark\r\nBittman: Well, I don’t really care. If you substitute one -- if you were\r\nmaking pasta with broccoli and you don’t have broccoli, you want to make pasta\r\nwith cauliflower, everything about that is the same: the cooking time, the\r\ntechnique, just about everything about it is the same, assuming you know how to\r\ntrim broccoli and trim cauliflower. \r\nIs it a different recipe? \r\nYou might say it's a different recipe, but almost everything about it is\r\nthe same and so what if it's a different recipe, it's still good. I mean, I like to say you can vary\r\nthings as much as you want to, but you have to remember that you can't make a\r\nroast chicken without chicken.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n
Coming up with the inspiration for new recipes starts with shopping and ends in kitchen experiments.
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