Paul McCartney has been the celebrity ambassador to vegetarians for as long as I’ve been alive. Long before it was cool to be vegetarian, he was making it look cool. Now his daughter, Mary McCartney, is following in his footsteps with a wonderful new book called simply “Food” and she spoke with the New York Times about it this week.
Her take on vegetarian cooking is refreshing, as you might expect.
One of the cool things about the interview is the way she encourages vegetarian parents whose kids may not be 100% on board with vegetarian eating. That would be most of us at one time or another, especially if we’ve come to our vegetarian lifestyles later on during our kids’ childhoods. Even Paul McCartney took some crap from his kids, but what he taught them stuck.
Dad would pick a turnip and slice it through and say, ‘Taste this turnip, it’s so sweet,’ ” she recalls. “And we’d be like, ‘Oh, Dad, whatever.’ We’d just make fun of him.”
But now the McCartney kids are vegetarians and Mary has even published her own vegetarian cookbook.
As the New York Times says,
Although her recipes for dishes like Lip-Smacking Minestrone, Asparagus Summer Tart, Ice-Cream Celebration Cake and Cauliflower Cheese never involve meat, they don’t necessarily shy away from eggs, butter, sugar or cheese, and dollops of piety are, mercifully, kept to a minimum.”
I love that she describes her cookbook as “food that’s healthy but doesn’t feel righteous.” This kind of agenda-free attitude seems to be her style all the way around, including when dealing with meat-eaters. She says she avoids getting into any kind of a debate with carnivores, either during social situations or otherwise. She wants her wishes to be respected, so she respects those of others. That wasn’t always the case, but she learned to adopt this attitude after doing too much battle in her youth.
I was shocked by how many debates I’d get into when I had dinner,” she recalled of those days. “ ‘Excuse me, I just met you, I’m having dinner — why are you on my case?’”
McCartney comes across as charming, laid back and witty and her cookbook seems to follow suit.
It’s low-key, delicious but beautiful, vegetarian but far from boring. Her comments throughout the book make it seem like you’re with her in her kitchen, just having some nice conversation while she whips up something to eat. For me, that’s the best kind of cookbook.
I knew I would like McCartney when at the end of the interview (during which she makes a gorgeous eggplant dish) she tells the reporter,
You know what would be good is to get a bit of bread and butter and dip it into that. It might be our duty to do that.”
Yeah. Loved her dad when I was a kid. I think I like the daughter, too.