Last Meal: Mark Bittman Does Not Want to Talk About it


Mark Bittman, The New York Times’ “Minimalist,” has a gigantic new book out, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, in which he provides about 2,000 meatless recipes without relying on weird fake-meat products. This is vegetarianism we can live with—it seems just like real food.

Have you been thinking about your last meal? I didn’t think about it, frankly. This last-meal stuff, I don’t know. Am I supposed to take this seriously? I mean, am I about to be executed? Or am I going to die a beautiful death?

It’s up to you. I think if I were about to be electrocuted, I’d want to eat quickly—I would be too nervous to enjoy it anyway. I would keep it simple, too: three or four fried eggs, cooked in butter, as much bacon as I want— really good bacon, not too crispy— some Poilâne bread. Maybe I’d want coffee, I don’t know. I guess a cappuccino, but just one. It’s going to add to the jitteriness.

Right. What’s that bread? It’s similar to Balthazar, but pre-dates it. Just basic, good bread. Semi-sourdough- slash-rye-slash-whole-wheat.

So, if you don’t get the chair? Well, if I’m having surgery the next day—they’re going to remove my stomach and put me on a liquid diet for the rest of my life, but otherwise I’m going to be fine—at that point, I would want to be surprised. Maybe I’d go to Jean-Georges, but bring David Chang along and ask them to alternate courses. You’re laughing, so I guess this is OK?

Sounds great. You certainly don’t have to have a menu planned out. I don’t want a menu planned out.

Anyone you’d want to be with? Oh, who would I want to be with? I don’t know. How do you get people to talk about this seriously? It gives me the creeps. I mean, it’s not like I like thinking about getting my stomach removed, but it’s better than dying. . . . So, is that enough? Do you want me to keep going?

That’s OK. I appreciate your contemplating your death against your will. On a more pleasant note, I’m looking forward to cooking from your book. I’m broke, so I’ve been cooking vegetarian recently by default. When I go out with friends who have expense accounts, I’m ordering what I want—I eat meat. But at home, if I’m making breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I’m eating plants.