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Meet Mark Bittman: An Interview with the Famed Food Writer

Mark Bittman

Sally Stein

Parents: What made you want to be a food writer?

Mark Bittman: Why would anyone not want to be a food writer? I get to think about food, cook it and eat it, and then broadcast my experience to anyone who wants to listen. In the years since I began -- it's more than 30 now -- I've learned more than I could've imagined about food, and come to the point where I'm willing and able to say exactly what I think about it. I could not have wanted a better career.

Parents: We read a quote from your daughter saying that you once had a squid in the sink and all she wanted was a hot dog. What advice do you have for parents of picky eaters?

MB: The kid who complained that I made squid every night for three weeks (an exaggeration; it was probably more like twice a week for three months) is a healthy, happy, beautiful, well-adapted young woman who has no eating issues and runs marathons. My advice: feed your kids real food, food that you want to eat, the food you expect they'll eat when they're grownups.

Parents: When your kids were younger, what was your favorite dish to make them?

MB: Pasta with butter, peas, and Parmesan. Maybe with a little ham or cream. It was the treat they got on nights we had a babysitter. On birthdays: lobster, and artichokes.

Parents: Where do you draw inspiration from for our Simple Suppers column?

MB: There's a bit of bittersweet nostalgia in this column for me, because I'm not cooking for my kids much anymore. But at the same time, since I believe that children should eat as their parents do, the inspiration comes from exactly what I'm finding fast, simple, and delicious right now.

Parents: Is there anything you can't cook or haven't mastered yet?

MB: Plenty. I just spent two weeks learning how to make soba noodles well; I could produce a halfway decent imitation before, but now I'm good at it. And there are dozens of other dishes like that.

Parents: What should Parents.com readers know about you?

MB: This is not something I'm going to get tired of. I intend to cook whenever I can, eat well, talk about the right way to eat, and write about it all for another 30 years.

Copyright © 2010 Meredith Corporation.

Recipes from Mark Bittman: