Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Molto Mario

Recently had my first big night out since becoming a parent (yeah, it's been months and months). My husband, in a shining example of insight, booked us and another couple a table at for Mario Batali's dinner from his new cookbook. Fantastic. I opted for the octopus and potato salad, roast duck, and the chocolate and pinenut dessert.

We had a brilliant evening, my husband made immediate friends with the table next to us, a group of women. One of whom promptly stated she had the building for my and Jerry's restaurant and we were set. Wouldn't it be great if all the grand schemes over wine and good food came to fruition? Surely the world would be a better, richer place.

Then off to the patio, cookbook in hand to get it signed. My husband and I have an agreeement: if something happens between us, then we each get a chef from Food Network to console ourselves with. His pick: Giada De Laurentiis. Mine: Mario. Okay, it was Tyler Florence for the obvious: young, fun, attractive. But Mario swayed me. Why? He always shifts the attention from him to those around him. Like on Iron Chef: he wins, first thing he does is say how great the challenger was and commends his sous chef and team. He never drones on all about Mario. I love his philosophy on life and lust for life. Even on his show, it is all about the food, the region, the history, not Mario.

It was late in the evening and after a lunch session as well. But Mr. Batali was still available, tired looking, but available. True to form, when I told Mario he was my favorite, then joked that my husband preferred Giada to him, but not for the food ... Mario did not miss a beat: "I can see why, but you are prettier than she is."

Of course, this is a lie, but it was a really nice one. I was not disappointed. I respect people who attain that much in life and are still humble and attentive to others. Who are still students of life and open to the value of the average person. So rare. Among the ranks: Jean-Michel Cousteau and so far no other celebrities that I have met.

Thanks, Mr. Batali.

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