The food of Italy's Grandmothers
April 30, 2009 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Mario Batali seems to be heading in a discouraging direction. But Molto Mario remains a remarkable cooking show for the dazzling fluency of both his subject presentation and his prep skills. [Let alone both at the same time!] I don't care how good a home cook you are - after watching him work, you'll feel like a monkey hitting a log with a stick.

Nice post.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:34 AM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh yum, Babbo. It's been too long. This is awesome.
posted by gaspode at 8:49 AM on April 30, 2009

Mario's own website includes recipes from some of his other restaurants and projects.

Sadly, it does not include any of Otto's gelato recipes. My husband and I still talk wistfully of the "scoop of olive oil, scoop of ricotta" dessert we shared there a couple years ago.
posted by padraigin at 8:53 AM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Well, I know what I'm making this weekend!

grilled cheese. again.
posted by The Whelk at 8:59 AM on April 30, 2009 [3 favorites]

I really liked Heat, even the parts that don't deal with Batali. Fantastic insights into commercial kitchens and traditional Italian cooking.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:01 AM on April 30, 2009

Great find, great post.

And a single link! Look on this single link, ye haters, and despair.
posted by kosem at 9:03 AM on April 30, 2009

posted by caddis at 9:09 AM on April 30, 2009

I really liked Heat, even the parts that don't deal with Batali. Fantastic insights into commercial kitchens and traditional Italian cooking.

We listened to the audiobook of Heat on a road trip last year, and it was super fun to hear about the planning of a restaurant we'd actually eaten at--Batali was working on the concept of Otto during the time that Bruford was working for him.
posted by padraigin at 9:10 AM on April 30, 2009

From the Bourdain link provided by Joe Beese: "Okay, I'll just say it. I think the Spain show is f***ing awful," he says "Mark Bittman comes off unsympathetic to say the least. Bringing someone who cannot or will not eat jamon [Gwyneth Paltrow] to Spain is a misjudgment. My crew grinds their teeth with rage looking at the crummy production values. Bad camera work, bad sound, bad direction. The whole thing sucks. It's unfortunate. It's mesmerizingly awful."

Not only that, but the entire show can be summed up as follows: Watch four insufferable rich and famous people drive through the Spanish countryside in their Mercedes convertible, ooh-ing and aah-ing as they drive up to the 5-star villa where they'll be staying the night. Listen to their insufferable banter about completely unrelated things, since the show has so little content that the editors were unable to cut it out. Watch them dine lavishly at El Bulli and at other impossible-to-reserve restaurants, all the while making such insufferably inane comments as "Oh my god, this is so good," and "Wow, this is so good," and "Can you believe how good this is?". Listen to them insufferably call each other "Bitty" and "Gwenny" and "Batals" like they're impossibly rich and bored 20-somethings in a Fitzgerald novel, or they're in some Hepburn/Tracy movie. And watch as they curl up together in a chaise lounge for a post-Michelin-prandial siesta, from which the editors are again unable to cut away because there simply is not enough insufferable content to paste together.

It IS mesmerizingly awful. (And the mesmerizing part is important, because for some reason I keep watching it. I keep waiting, I think, for the 5 minutes of food content that each episode will provide, fingers crossed.) But the height of its awfulness is its extreme snobbishness. It's not a cooking show. It's not a food show. It's not even a travel show in any real sense, because the numerous stops they make and the amount of money they spend a) getting there and b) eating there are completely unrealistic and unattainable for the average PBS viewer.

The show is about "Hi, I'm Mario! I'm a great cook and a famous chef now! Look at all the awesome things I can do with my famous friends, and watch us as we do them. Hopefully you won't notice how insufferable we are. Because we're famous!"

Anyway. Sorry for the rant. The show has made me put Mario in the shameless self-promoter category, and that makes me unhappy. I think he was probably already there, but I was able to ignore it until this horrible, horrible show came along and prevented me from averting my eyes anymore.

Thanks for the links to the recipes.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:41 AM on April 30, 2009 [11 favorites]

Holy crappato.

Goodbye metafilter i won't see you for months

[takes recipes and runs]
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 10:11 AM on April 30, 2009

I'm caught between admiring what Batali has achieved and how great his food can be, and feeling less than satisfied when he shows up for a cooking show minutes before air time, for the quick consultation with his assistants, who hand him the already prepared dish and brief him on what it is he's supposed to have cooked.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:32 PM on April 30, 2009

Great post, I just ate there on Sunday night on my first visit to NYC, what an incredible meal!
posted by phirleh at 12:36 PM on April 30, 2009

As a New Yorker who has just moved out of town after 20-some years, I say from the bottom of my Batali-enhanced gut: Thank you. That olive oil and polenta cake looks like something even I could make.
posted by GrammarMoses at 2:08 PM on April 30, 2009

Approved with a 6.5 out of 10. There's a good selection of classic recipes from all across Italy. Not nonna's cooking (not in the slightest, say they're heavily interpreted: cantuccini with anise seeds? amatriciana with garlic and onion and pecorino romano? Panzanella with roasted breadcrumbs?) but anyway, better than most and useful in getting acquainted with the ingredients. Buon appetito!
posted by _dario at 7:16 PM on April 30, 2009

Okay so I made that Orzoette Al Funghi last night cause I had almost everything needed in the house (subbed in some dired mushrooms, went out and got tricolor Orzo cause I needed to pick up wine anyway) and while it look forever (risotto-y dishes always take 45 min longer than I expect) it was so rich and creamy and garlicky that we could only eat half-portions. Maaaan. That was good.

I added pine nuts so the creamy-earthy factor was so strong it almost got annoying. Ahhh, I have no sense of balance in cooking. It's all or nothing.
posted by The Whelk at 8:08 AM on May 1, 2009

How is Babbo formed?
posted by Skot at 8:54 AM on May 1, 2009

No beef cheek or balsamic reduction ravioli on that list, which is sad.
posted by Caviar at 6:34 PM on May 3, 2009

« Older Is pr0n an appropriate metaphor for databases?   |   Why do people get Rothko but not Stockhausen? Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments