You Asked Mario Batali Anything, Here Are His Answers

20111024-mario-210.jpgWe recently invited you all to ask Mario Batali anything. Really, anything. And you did! We picked 14 of the submitted questions and passed them over to Mario himself to answer.

The topics run the gamut from Italian cuisine to wine hangover cures to arm-wrestling Bobby Flay and chainsaws (wait, what?).

Be on the lookout for Mario's latest cookbook, Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals From My Home To Yours, in our Cook the Book series soon.

1. Like Mario, I have a huge love for Northern Michigan, my home. I live in Texas now and would love to incorporate those "up north" flavors in dishes I make here. I'm dreaming of the fall color change, apple harvest and long, slow-cooked comfort foods but the reality is, it's 85 degrees and I'm still wearing shorts! I know Mario must take a little Leelanau wherever he goes & I'd love to know how he does it! Thanks. —M22Mary

Mario: I am a big fan of mostly buying local, but if you need your Michigan fix, try doing some online shopping. my favorite is Zingermans. if you know Michigan well, i'm sure you know Zingermans! they have an amazing American Spoon Cherry Berry Spoonfruit . That will fill that cherry void while you soak up the sun in Texas!

2. Mario, what's the best cure for an awful wine hangover. The quicker the response, the better please. —adrockuw

Mario: Hair of the dog, my friend! Or full on hard exercise for half an hour.

3. I love fresh pasta, but don't have a pasta machine. Is there any rustic fresh pasta I can make by just hand-rolling the dough and cutting it into shapes? —May_be

Mario: Rustic hand-rolled pici is a big hit at my house.

4. When did you first know you wanted to be a chef? Was there a particular moment (or meal)? —JamieElizabeth

Mario: I started to explore the idea while working at stuff yer face in New Jersey while at Rutgers. the energy and adrenaline rush was addictive and i loved that you can have fun while working.

5. In your eyes, what recipe sums up the best ingredients that Italy has to offer? —hattorihanzo15

Mario: Bollito misto. In Italy this dish is served on an elaborate rolling cart, exemplifying the old world style that is rare to be found these days (save for Del Posto where we strive to do this). But this dish also includes cuts of meat that are perhaps still unusual for Americans, like cotechino sausage, calf's tongue and pig's foot. but the beautiful thing about this dish is its versatility and ability to welcome any cut of meat that is available in your region. This is why it's perfectly Italian.

6. Mario, do you own any chainsaws? If so, what brand and model, and what would you recommend? —Dennis Lee

Mario: No.

7. Do you think you could beat Bobby Flay in arm wrestling? —Porkins

Mario: Maybe. Depends on what each of us had for breakfast.

8. You do seem to like simple food, but the food you (and others) cook for Iron Chef is usually complex, sometimes absurdly so. Why is being an Iron Chef synonymous with flights of fancy? Would you dare do something very simple in Iron Chef competition? —lemonfair

Mario: On Iron Chef, my food is simply prepared but deceptively presented.

9. My question is more localized to Italian cuisine, do you have a favourite region to cook and create recipes from or do you like like certain hybrids/pairings in particular? Thanks! —Mickey The Shoe

Mario: Yes, I love to cook from Emilia Romagna. that is where i lived for three years while i cooked at La Volta with my Italian "family." it will always be my favorite.

10. What's better, bad pizza or bad sex? —Jim-Bob

Mario: Do you mean, what's worse?? Bad pizza.

11. What three things would you say I HAVE to buy at Eataly? —nomnom25

Mario: Fresh pasta, fresh mozzarella and fresh baked bread.

12. Hi Mario! Really excited about your new book. My question is about restaurants, though: If you had an open-ended airline ticket but could only spend $30 per person on any meal, where would you go? —cocorouge

Mario: Mexico, for fresh tacos and simple ceviches.

13. If you could live off 3 dishes alone, what would they be? —Rachael from KitchenCourses

Mario: Linguine with clams, bucatini all'amatriciana, and a fried oyster po boy.

14. If humanity were forced to revert to a post-apocalyptic lifestyle due to some unknown catastrophe (meteor impact, massive financial crash, zombie outbreak, and so on), what type of gourmet foods would you stock up on? —deet13

Mario: Truffles, caviar, champagne--it'd only be a matter of time...