'Food Is Love': Lidia Bastianich On Osso Bucco & Gastrosexuals

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lidia bastianich with son joe bastianich
NYC-based chef and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich dishes on food, love & her son Joe's tough guy rap.

Throughout the month of October, we've been focusing on the rich, often complex intersection between food and our love lives. In our Breakfast, Love & Dinner initiative, we've touched on everything from whether a man's proclivity to cheat on a diet will make him more likely to cheat on a woman to tips for celebrating special occasions without breaking the bank and exploring what your favorite food says about your sex life

I recently had the chance to chat with Lidia Bastianich, one of the biggest names in Italian food, to discuss cooking and relationships. Bastianich was out on tour promoting her latest cookbook, Lidia's Favorite Recipes: 100 Foolproof Italian Dishes, From Basic Sauces to Irresistible Entrees. Bastianich, her son Joe—of MasterChef fame—and her daughter Tanya run a handful of top NYC restaurants including Felidia, Del Posto and the behemoth Italian eatery/market, Eataly, in addition to restaurants in Pittsburgh and Kansas City. In other words, this lady knows her food.

I got to jog her memory about some of the most (and least) romantic moments she's witnessed in a lifetime of running restaurants, plus learn some dos and don't for planning a romantic meal (hint: don't overindulge!). Here's what she had to say about the extraordinary link between our hearts and our stomachs.

I know you're on tour at the moment, promoting your new cookbook. Where are you now? What are your on-the-road eating habits like?

I'm in Philadelphia. Definitely feeling the energy and excitement being on the road. In terms of eating, I love to find new places, but that doesn't always work with my schedule. If I'm in a decent hotel though, I'm not all fussed up. Good veggies and a nice piece of fish will do for me.

When's the last time you ate fast food?

You know, sometimes, airports force you to—so I think in one of my recent travels. Though I'll try to get something grilled, a simple sandwich, a BLT and a beer.

A BLT & a beer sounds delicious. You cooked with Stanley Tucci for a PBS special last year, and during the session he pointed out that food is a way of expressing love, anger, etc. Which food or meal best expresses love in your mind?

Food is love—every aspect of it. It starts with mother nursing baby, the ultimate giving of oneself to give another life. When we give food, [the power] is underestimated. When we cook and present food, it's really presenting very deep emotions. You care about that person. You want to feed/nurture them, from the inside out.

So you don't want to give them all fried, fatty foods. You want to play up to that person, too, emotionally. Know their favorites. Husband had a tough day? Know he enjoys an osso bucco and make it for him.

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