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The Man Who Eats Italy

Settembre 2005
Ristoranti, show televisivi, e ora un libro che va a ruba. Così lo chef Mario Batali diffonde in America la vera cucina italiana: quella casalinga.

di Lorenza Cerbini

File audio:

Mario Batali
Mario Batali

Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

Italian-American Mario Batali is a successful restaurateur, TV presenter and cookery book writer. The grandson of Italian immigrants, he grew up in Seattle, Washington, but first got interested in the food business when, as a student at Rutgers, he worked in a pizzeria in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
He later attended a cordon bleu cookery course in London, but dropped out because he felt he “wasn’t challenged enough.”
Success was to come in New York, where he has opened no fewer than eight restaurants since 1993.
His current properties include Babbo and Lupa in Greenwich Village, as well as Esca in the theater district. He also hosts shows on the Food Network, namely Molto Mario and Mario Eats Italy. And, in case that wasn’t enough, he has written a series of cookbooks, the latest of which, Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home, was published by Ecco in May.
Mario Batali recently met with Speak Up in New York. He began by talking about Molto Italiano:

Mario Batali (Standard American accent)

I explain that the best cooking in Italy is more often perceived to come from home cooking, as opposed to a fancy restaurant.
Italians go to restaurants in the cities, as we do in America, to do business, or to celebrate something, and to get interesting meals, but if an Italian wants to have the best meal, it’s generally at the house of their aunt or their mum or their cousins. When they talk about the best food, it’s generally homemade, so this book is to try to make Americans understand that the homemade is that which we should celebrate, much more so than the restaurant products.

Sophistication

He then discussed the improvements in American culinary awareness in recent years:

Mario Batali:

I think in the last 10 years Americans have become more sophisticated in their understanding of what regional Italian cooking is. It used to be that Italian cooking was really, more or less, the Neapolitan cooking as it was translated into the American ideology and now people understand the difference between Tuscany and Emilia and Calabria and they have travelled there to know now more and expect more. In that same sense they’ve also become very regional in their own American purchasing and we buy ingredients now as much as possible from the local purveyors than from, say, Chile or from imported products.

Coming Soon

In conclusion we asked this decidedly busy man, who also has a wife and two children, to describe his current projects:

Mario Batali:

Right now we’re working on two restaurants, one in New York City called Del Posto, which will celebrate the region in and around the Hudson Valley here in New York, from a very specific Italian classic cooking perspective, and another restaurant I’m working on is in Los Angeles, a place called Trattoria del Latte and that will be with a woman named Nancy Silverton, who is an excellent baker and an understander of Italian culture. There will be a large emphasis on mozzarella, fresh cheese from Campania, that we would make and also that we would buy from Italy.


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Glossary

Rutgers - l’università statale del New Jersey.

dropped out - lasciò (il corso).

challenged - stimolato.

perceived - percepito.

fancy - di lusso.

awareness - consapevolezza.

purchasing - acquisti.

purveyors - fornitori.

baker - esperta di dolci e prodotti da forno.