Bitty and his book. Photo by Evan Sung.
Mark Bittman has a lot on his plate.
[rssbreak]Not only does the celebrated syndicated New York Times food columnist and cookbook author (How To Cook Everything) host a highly rated show on US public television (Best Recipes in the World, 3:30 pm Saturdays on PBS/Rogers 61) but he's featured as well on the net's just-concluded Spain...On The Road Again series. That's Bittman eating his way across the Iberian Peninsula with NYC TV chef and pal Mario Batalli and seen tooling around in a Mercedes convertible along with actors Claudia Bassols and a certain Gwyneth Paltrow. It should be noted that Apple's mom affectionately refers to the self-styled ladies' man as the diminutive "Bitty" throughout.
Since then, Bittman's found the time to pen the best-selling tome Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating (Simon and Schuster, $28.99). The book brings him to Hart House's East Common Room on Thursday January 22 for a 7 pm meet ‘n' greet hosted by CBC radio's Matt Galloway. Admission is free.
Here's Bittman's concept in a nutshell:
"If I told you a simple lifestyle choice could help you lose weight, reduce your risk of many long-term or chronic diseases, save you real money, and help stop global warming, I imagine you'd be intrigued. If I told you that this change would be easier and more pleasant than any diet you've ever tried, would take less time and effort than your exercise routine, and would require no sacrifice, I would think you'd want to read more," Bittman writes.
"When you do, you'll find an explanation of the links among diet, health, the environment in general and climate change in particular and you'll see how you can make a difference. And while you're doing your part to heal the planet, you'll improve your health, lose weight, and even spend less at the check out counter."
Blame those methane-farting cattle and pigs raised industrially to produce burgers and sausages for more than one-fifth of all global warming greenhouses gases: Bittman's gone veggie!
Well, not completely. While a few of the recipes included in the month of planned meals found in Food Matters do contain meat, it's usually lean chicken or fish. Dairy, other than eggs ("possibly the most useful of all animal products"), is also mostly absent. And there's an awful lot of beans. Oddly, his recipes call for the use of canned beans - but only in a pinch if dried beans are unavailable - something he eschewed in a recent column titled What to Ditch in the Kitchen.
The book itself doesn't seem particularly planet-friendly. Cheaply bound and minimally illustrated, it's printed in a very large font with unnecessarily wide spaces between each line. With smaller type and tighter spacing (i.e. the usual amount), I doubt Food Matters would fill 200 pages instead of its current 326. Some foot-print!
For more information on Mark Bittman's free Hart House appearance, call Type Books at 416-366-8973.
The final episode of Spain...On the Road Again is re-broadcast Saturday January 24 at 4 am. That's not a typo: the programming nitwits at WNED have scheduled the reruns of one of its most popular shows for the middle of the night. Remember that the next time they ask you for money during yet another interminable pledge break.