Please, Sir, I Want Some More…Mark Bittman
It’s not every day that I find myself advocating for more exposure of a middle-aged food dude with a somewhat elitist tone to his voice, but I have to say, we could all stand to be getting a higher daily allotment of Mark Bittman. Sure, his weekly column in the NYT is terrific and his cookbook, How to Cook Everything, is plenty good enough that we would be happy if that was all we got, but relegating him to the printed page or computer monitor is a bit of a disservice.
So I’m calling on the TV gods to grace us with even more Mark Bittman. He manages to bring obvious authority and knowledge to the audience while providing sound, simple recipes and tips, finding the difficult balance between being a food snob and a just-get-it-on-the-table home cook.
Not convinced? He’s got a few other things going for him. Here’s three compelling reasons Mark Bittman should be turning up on or TV screens at least as often as Guy Fieri.
1. He’s an F.O.M. (Friend of Mario) in spite of the fact that he actually wrote a vegetarian cookbook. If Batali — who has absolutely no qualms about telling you to cook a 3 3/4 lb. steak — is cool with this salad-eater, then you know he’s good people.
2. He got to spend a few weeks eating his way through Spain in a convertible accompanied by Claudia Bassols. Seriously. Anyone who can swing a gig like that and manage to look cool hanging out with a woman that is, conservatively speaking, twenty to thirty times as good looking as he is must have something going for him.
3. His Minimalist video podcast is really good. How good? Even if you’re watching it like I am, while riding on the train to work, you feel like you’re able to view it once and knock out the same recipe next time you’re in the kitchen. Whereas Rachael Ray’s “throw in a handful of this” routine seems goofy, there’s a naturalism about Bittman’s instructions concerning amounts and proportions that conveys the essential fact that cooking is less about ticking off lines of a recipe and more about developing the necessary feel for a dish and using “enough” of the various components to achieve balance. While this concept may be disconcerting to a novice cook, it’s quite empowering to the foodie. Another thing about the videos: He’s actually cool enough to pull of the usually-deadly “older white guy doing hip-hop” thing in the intro. Sure, the challah thing gets a chuckle, but I think the gag with the lettuce is pretty darn clever. Check out the latest episode below, and be sure to subscribe via iTunes.