The New York Diet

King of Brooklyn Marty Markowitz Resists the Call of Cake

“Just to make sure it tasted right, I tried some.” Photo: Melissa Hom

This week Brooklyn’s borough president, the inimitable Marty Markowitz, called for a supermarket to be built on the site of Admirals’ Row, the historic Navy Yard houses that preservationists want to restore. “There’s a huge lack of supermarkets in Brooklyn,” he says, explaining his concept of “food justice” to us. “When you don’t have fresh fruit and produce available, people of low or moderate income will go to McDonald’s or Burger King or KFC.” Markowitz, who recently cut down on his three-hamburger habit after a heart attack, understands the allure of such foods. “I miss White Castle,” he says. “It’s the most decadent you can go — when I’m there I’m at my lowest self-esteem, but they taste so damn good!” We asked him how he stayed healthy while still feeding an appetite of presidential proportions.

Saturday, July 19
I was out in Quogue — the host of the home ordered from Barney Greengrass. I had bialys and bagels with great sturgeon and nova lox, which is something I grew up on a bit. I didn’t eat the herring and cream sauce because I was full. They had various types of cream cheese, but I did not eat it. It was very difficult not to do it, but it’s one of those things I have to cut back on. I eat significantly less than I used to do. I’m trying to hold the weight down, but like many people who lust for food, I have to temper that with reality. I lost about 22 pounds from my high point two years ago. I’m a walking billboard of a Type-A personality — I’d say Type A-. In the past I could’ve easily had two or three hamburgers without batting an eyelash — I wouldn’t really know I was consuming it. There’s nothing in my life easier than gaining weight.

For lunch, wine of course. During the summers I prefer white wine. We had cucumber salad and egg salad, and crab salad. I don’t eat shellfish. Chopped liver, I do eat. I can’t stand liver, but chopped liver if done right is delicious. And chicken kebabs.

Dinner was a Caesar salad and then meatballs and spaghetti. And I brought Junior’s cheesecakes. I first went there when I was 14 or 15. I will admit that just to make sure it tasted right, I tried some. I wouldn’t want to serve my guests anything I wouldn’t eat myself! Luckily my wife was so preoccupied with the other guests she didn’t see me consuming it.

Sunday, July 20
Same breakfast as Saturday.

I had to come back to events in Brooklyn, so I had no lunch — besides, I was too damn full.

I had lemon sole, which I had frozen from a takeout place, plus black beans and corn salad.

Monday, July 21
Every morning for breakfast I have 2 percent Fage yogurt (not the fat-free kind) with a banana and coffee.

For lunch, just a fresh fruit cup.

I do concerts during the summer on Monday and Thursday, so I get home late. I had a turkey wrap with cranberry sauce, roasted pepper, tomatoes inside and coleslaw on the side that I bought at Lassen & Hennings right on Montague.

Tuesday, July 22
Same breakfast, no lunch.

I took dinner home from Sahara in Graveshead, probably the largest Turkish restaurant in the country. It’s a very utilitarian, comfortable, outdoors/indoors, inexpensive place. I had eggplant spread and a Turkish salad with Feta cheese and chicken kebabs and Turkish bread. They don’t foist food on me at events, but the minute I walk in, I see it. It calls me over — “Marty.” I have to fight myself not to go over. If I have a bite, there will be another bite and another bite and another bite.

That night my wife insisted I go on a bat walk in Prospect Park. It’s the last place I wanted to be; however, I have to say “yes, dear” occasionally. It rained for 40 minutes — we got drenched, then we continued on, and we saw the bats. I got home and ate the stuff I took home from Sahara early in the day.

Wednesday, July 23
I was at an event at the Cyclone Stadium, and they were celebrating Brooklyn Burger. They had burgers all over the damn place, and frankfurters, and I had one burger. Believe you me, I came close to eating a second one. Not trembling, but close. And then — no! I can’t do it, I can’t do it, I can’t do it!

I stopped at Gargiulo’s, the legendary Italian spot, and took home chicken Sorrentina — it’s baked rather than fried, and it’s with a little cheese (I cut back that on a little bit) and with eggplant. It comes with prosciutto, but since I don’t eat pork, he takes it off for us. Then I went downhill — I had a couple potato croquettes with vegetables. And wine.

Thursday, July 24
I had breakfast — same as the other days. Then, because I had 7:15 a.m. interview, I had a scrambled egg on a bialy. Why a bialy? It’s less fattening than a bagel. When I go to a restaurant and they bring that bread tray, my wife intercepts the waiter and says, “No bread on the table.” In the past I’d down four, five, six rolls with lots of butter and then I’d get to the appetizer . That’s why I call my wife General Jamie.

Then I fell off the wagon just a little bit because your photographer had me at Junior’s. I had little slivers of cake and said, “It’s out of my system — it’s done.” This week I had a piece of cake one night rather than every night. Although the day is not done yet!

King of Brooklyn Marty Markowitz Resists the Call of Cake