The restaurant issue of Modern Luxury: Manhattan is out, and while there isn’t much new to its list of favorite eateries, we were intrigued by a feature, “Super Mario?” and its reading line: “America’s most recognizable chef runs a coast-to-coast empire that strives for perfection. Mario Batali the man, however, seems to be spinning out of control.” Oooh! What sort of lurid late-night-at–Spotted Pig stories has Modern Luxury unearthed? Absolutely none, it turns out. The feature just rehashes Mario’s recent run-ins with the limelight (cussing in front of the Queen of Spain), teases him for appearing on TV a lot and catering to the lowest common denominator via that NASCAR cookbook (“without exposure on TV, Mario Batali is just another chef with a classy joint in the red-sauce district of the Village”), recounts possibly inaccurate gossip (Gwyneth Paltrow has denied getting Mario a gym membership), and chastises him for hanging with celebs at Babbo instead of being in the kitchen (we even get the years-old complaint that the music at Babbo is too loud). Then we get to the really low blow.
A physician who relishes an occasional night out at Babbo’s [sic] says Batali is hitting the wall of age. “Lately I see his weight gain, and the pink flush of his facial features, and I think, My God, I hope there’s a defibrillator in the place.” In the African-American community, it’s called “it is” (as in, “I got the itis”), the sluggish, punch-drunk feeling after eating a high-fat meal. “Food coma” is another name for it.
Leaving aside the quote from the “physician” who has never actually treated Batali and the weird aside about the African-American community, what does needing to take a siesta have to do with Mario spiraling out of control? Well, this is how the piece ends:
Batali could eat like a pig in his 30s and 40s, he could glory in it, he could chow down on 35 or 40 dishes in one sitting. But he hits the half-century mark next year. A 50-year-old glutton (or gourmand, if you insist) is much different than one at 30, or even 40. At 30, it’s funny and irreverent. By age 50, it’s turned into a deep-dish death wish. Everyone knows the way this story ends, because we’ve seen it all before, many times. Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, to mention just a few flameouts featured on the soundtrack at Babbo.”
A “deep-dish death wish”? Wow. So, to sum up, the incoherent argument as to why Mario is coming undone spirals into “he’s fat and he’s gonna die on the toilet bowl.” It’s especially weird since the restaurant issue also features a sidebar about pork dishes (Porchetta sandwich, anyone?), but in any case, a note to Mario’s publicist: This is what happens when you decline an interview with Modern Luxury.
Moderrn Luxury: Manhattan Digital Edition [Modern Luxury]