Meet Mark Bittman: An Interview with the Famed Food Writer

The New York Times columnist, cookbook author and regular Parents contributor opens up about feeding his kids, learning new skills, and what's in store for the future.
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 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:

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