Mark Bittman – The Minimalist and Lessmeatarian?

Recently, I went to a talk at the Skirball Museum in Los Angeles to see restaurant owner and radio show host, Evan Kleiman speak with Mark Bittman, the food writer and consummate home cook. If you don’t cook and want to learn how to, he’s the one to help you. He writes an awesome column for The New York Times called The Minimalist, where he provides really simple, yet sophisticated recipes and he also wrote the very massive book, “How to Cook Everything.” And he does really simple demos videos that are helpful and fun to watch. And funnily enough, the people who seem to be most impacted by his style are men! At the talk, every man I met said he start cooking because of Mark. Hallelujah to more male home cooks! Here’s one of his great videos.

Anyway, he has been a home cook since 1970 (very early for a man in that era, don’t you think?!) and today he’s cooked with all of the top chefs. In fact, one of the ways I really got to know Bittman was that he did this great PBS series with Mario Batali (one of my favorite chefs), Gwyneth Paltrow and Spanish actress, Claudia Bassols called, Spain: On The Road Again. The four of them drove a car through all the different regions of Spain learning about food, history and culture. It was really a beautiful series and highly helpful for me as I watched the entire thing while I was on the way to my first trip to Espane. While watching it, I really gained a soft soft for “Bitty” as Mario calls him.

The reason he was in LA was to talk about his newest book, “The Food Matters Cook Book.” This book and his prior book “Food Matters” really highlights how Bittman’s perspective regarding food has changed. Initially he was a heavy meat and pasta eater and he weighed a lot more, but today he’s a lessmeatarian. His whole idea is to reduce the consumption of meat, junk food and processed foods. His positions is that “you can slow global warming while losing weight, simply by changing the proportions of what you eat.” So he’s not saying becoming a vegetarian, but he’s just saying if you’re gonna make a stew, make it a mushroom and beef stew, not a beef and mushroom stew. He’s all about switching up the proportions and eating a lot more vegetables, legumes and grains.

I love meat. In fact, I love anything you can put on a plate or in bowl, but I absolutely agree with what he’s saying. It’s about moderation ( an idea that’s pretty sensible) and realizing there are so many people on our planet and we really only have so many resources to keep all of us going for so long.It’s definitely something to think about when you’re making up your grocery store lists. But this guy really knows how to put recipes together. Which is why I bought his book with 500 recipes…they look awesome. Can’t wait to start trying them out.

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