Mario Batali on Italian Cooking
Mario Batali talks food and family, his Italian food philosophy, his love for Bolognese and Amalfi Coast cuisines, and how New York's local ingredients shape his dishes.
Released on 10/19/2013
My style is an amalgamation
of everywhere that I've ever been.
As would be any song I would write
or any poem I might recite.
I grew in a family on the West Coast
in what looked like sunset magazines.
Cooking was always part of our life.
Everyone in my family; my brother, my sister,
my aunts, my uncles, my cousins, my grandparents;
everyone knew how to cook.
Everyone had their specialty dish.
It was part of the fabric of our everyday life.
We would spend most of lunch discussing dinner
and most of dinner discussing tomorrow's lunch.
Clearly, the most significant influences
are the first dishes that you taste.
The ones that you really establish
that kind of Proustian memory.
My mom making blackberry pie
or my grandma making that bacalao
or my dad making this scalloped dish he used to make.
Those are the ones that really set the tone
for your style as you develop it.
And then as you move along, just like reading books,
you pick up influences.
Phrases or little rifts in the pan or on the plate
stick in your mind.
And you really kind of develop your own personal style
once your comfortable with the vernacular
of all of the classic dishes you've seen.
I would say that all 21 of the Italian regions
are my favorites.
If had to choose one single one, I would choose two,
and that would always be either Bologna
or the Amalfi Coast.
That's where I find that I am
most naturally at home.
I feel that something
that precedes me was there before.
When you talk about Italian cooking in Italy,
it's really all about where you are.
So, if we talk about my style of cooking
we wouldn't call Bolognesi
for the simple reason that we're not even near Bologna.
We would call it New Yorkesi,
which is the say we take the ingredients
from the Hudson River valley
and the Atlantic seacoast.
And we use them in a way that the Italians would.
We do not try to copy dishes, per se,
although we'll take the ideology of a plate.
But we'll never try to make it
with the stuff that would be served in Italy
for the simple reason that a cook in Venice
would rarely use anything from Apulia.
And a cook in Rome would very rarely
use anything from Piemonte.
They are fiercely proud of the region that they're in.
They may have to import some things,
but rarely do they exalt them.
They try to celebrate what they have.
So for us, we get great porcini from here.
We get great wild striped bass.
We get unbelievable sheep's milk,
goat milk cheeses all made here.
So we try to celebrate that.