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PODCAST: Lidia Bastianich and Judith Jones at the Brattle Theatre

 

What's the nexus between The Diary of Anne Frank and Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking? Both were scooped out of the literary rejection piles by famed Knopf editor Judith Jones and made into worldwide classics. Today, the 85-year-old Jones is working alongside a culinary figure of already-epic proportions -- she's edited and mentored Italian cooking legend Lidia Bastianich throughout the publication of her new cookbook, Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy, a collection of unusual recipes from lesser-known regions of Italy. With food serving as a lifelong muse, Jones has also penned her own works, including this year's The Pleasures of Cooking for One.

Last month, Jones and Bastianich joined forces at the Brattle Theatre, giving a talk-show style discussion of their relationship with one another, their latest books, and, of course, the way they like their food. As the icy wrath of winter drives you in search of gut-warming comfort food and New Year's resolutions perhaps inspire new dieting efforts, take into consideration this sage advice from Bastianich and Jones.

Cooking alone can curb loneliness: As a foodie and a widow, Jones has had a fair amount of experience adjusting to the process of cooking for just one person, and she's trying to help other singles do the same. "They [singles] don't understand that it's a way of treating yourself well, sort of relaxing at the end of the day," she said. "It is that pleasure of filling the house with good smells ... you feel less alone. To me, it's the best part of the day."

Cooking for just yourself is healthy, eco-friendly, and economical: Both Bastianich and Jones emphasize the importance of using leftovers. "When I talk about cooking for one, I always talk about the leftovers, the reusing ... which is part of the Italian tradition," Bastianich said. Jones went on to cite the green-ness of our current culinary consciousness, explaining that "if you cook for yourself, you're in control of what you're eating. I think that's a very important factor. And you spend less money, and you enjoy it."

Food is not a villain: Bastianich and Jones, particularly in their latest publications, celebrate heartier natural foods served in manageable portions -- notions that run counter to certain American attitudes toward food. "All of this bad news about food, it gets exaggerated out of proportion, and then you wait for the next decade and butter is okay [again]," Jones said. "If we could just push all of that away and make food that we really like."

DOWNLOAD: Lidia Bastianich and Judith Jones [MP3]

 

Recorded live at the Brattle Theatre, courtesy of the Harvard Book Store, on November 9, 2009. To subscribe to this podcast, paste this RSS feed into your podcatcher or feed-reader of choice, or bookmark http://thephoenix.com/podcast.

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