Articles / José Andrés: "Behind Every Plate of Food is a Story"

José Andrés: "Behind Every Plate of Food is a Story"

Published March 29, 2023

Plus: early spring pizza, red soup, and the one film you need to see


It’s Wednesday. You know what that means.

For today’s episode of Food with Mark Bittman, we are revisiting our interview with my friend José Andrés, which originally aired in September 2021. It was a very popular episode, and José has only grown in fame and stature since then. If you didn’t listen the first time, you’ll really want to hear this, and if you did listen the first time — well, I enjoyed it the second time around, too.

José and I talked a lot about his humanitarian organization, World Central Kitchen (“Food is a Universal Human Right” — imagine that!) of course, but also about the way he ate growing up (“my mom would make things out of nothing”), the dark side of street food, career pivots, weight loss and health, and the question of “too much empathy.” It’s an extremely well-rounded conversation, if I do say so myself. Let us know what you think. The recipes featured on the episode, Santorini Lentils and Red Sangria, can be found here.

Your weekly Marksisms, below! Thanks for listening, and reading.

“If you are paying too little for something, it’s somebody losing. Somebody or something is being lost in the chain. The farmer is not getting paid his fair share, or the cook is not getting paid, or the guy delivering the food is not getting paid. It’s not about ‘cheap eats,’ but what is the right price.” — José Andrés

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This Week’s Marksisms

A FRIEND’S FANTASTIC FILM

Top of the list this week is the national tour of (my friend and one of the food movement’s resident geniuses) Raj Patel’s The Ants & the Grasshopper, a movie ten years in the making (you can listen to Raj on Food with Mark Bittman here and here, by the way). In it, Anita Chitaya, after bringing about reform on several layers in her village in Malawi, travels to the US to try to increase climate awareness. It’s a gorgeous, warm, inspiring film. I will be in New York with Raj on April 6, but he will be traveling, beginning later this week, to LA (March 31), SF (April 1), Denver (April 2); Chicago (April 3); Austin (April 4). I guess he gets the 5th off but what a schedule!

While we’re on the subject of Raj, he sent me this:

And while we’re on the subject of lefties, here’s a glowing profile of another friend of mine, the fearless and tireless independent journalist David Sirota of the investigative news site The Lever. Check it out and subscribe.

On to cooking. Three interesting successes this week…

THIS WEEK, IT’S ALL ABOUT REDS

First, what Kerri calls a red soup (the recipe is inThe VB6 Cookbook) – red onion, red cabbage (I cheated and used white), and beets, which of course turn everything red, anyway. Nothing else in there except a splash of vinegar, a little oil to get it started, and an inspired handful of freekeh for texture; otherwise, water. Next time I’d add some potatoes because … I wanted them. Of course I wanted sour cream too, but this soup is really good and gets some of those beets and cabbage out of storage!

EARLY SPRING PIZZA

Then a whole wheat (yes, ground my own berries, but hardly mandatory) sourdough crust pizza with what felt the season’s first kale. Made a semi-wet dough and pressed it directly into an oiled pan, which worked nicely. A little Stilton on there; normally I’m not so bold but what the hell.

HEAD CHEESE, AKA A LOAF OF MEAT

Finally, and I’ve spared you the process pictures here: I cooked a pig’s head and, for the first time since around 1990, made what Elizabeth Luard calls “brawn” and I would call head cheese: A loaf of meat and reduced stock. With Dijon mustard and good bread – hard to keep away from that stuff.

Comments, questions, feedback? You know where to go. Until next time…