Okay so Mark Morris doesn’t actually live in Brooklyn. But we consider him a prominent Brooklynite nonetheless, as his world-famous Mark Morris Dance Group is headquartered in a glistening glass building atop our very own, very grimy, Atlantic Avenue subway stop.
And when we say world-famous, we mean it. Sure, boro children of all stripes in tights and leotards learn the joys of movement in these sunny studios, but Morris’s reputation literally spans the globe. He has choreographed ballet works for the San Francisco Ballet, the Boston Ballet, the Geneva Ballet, New Zealand Ballet, Houston Ballet, English National Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre, and the Royal Ballet, among others.
And then there’s his opera career: he was director of the national opera house of Belgium and has directed and choreographed productions for the New York City Opera, English National Opera, and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden. Last year he received the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Mayor’s Award for Arts & Culture, for exposing thousands of people to classical music of the highest standard coupled with his own approach to dance. He’s co-founder of the White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov, was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, and shows no sign of needing to stop and stretch. All of which begs the question .what is this guy eating? We dropped in on Brooklyn’s genius-in-residence to find out.
Tell me about your eating habits.
I can get a table at any restaurant in town. I eat in Manhattan. I come here to work. I don’t know Brooklyn restaurants. I’ve been to very few. Convivium—I think it’s great. I loved it. Ici is wonderful and has a great wine list. River Café, we take people there. And when I go to St. Ann’s I go to Superfine after. That reminds me of Seattle in the mid ’80s, with the mismatched furniture chic. And that choclatier [Jacques Torres] is very good.
I don’t usually stay in Brooklyn for dinner. I usually go home and cook. I cook every day. I’m a very good cook. Very versatile and very skilled. I cook in large quantities and bring it in and give it people.
I do get takeaway in Brooklyn all the time for lunch. What’s that place? Bedouin Tent. I get the green pizza with leek, scallions and fenugreek. Also haria soup which is bean-based and delicious. Sahadi’s caters our company lunches, once a month. We really love that place. It’s reliable and really delicious. I love the ful and the babaganoush. Oh yeah there’s the shitty-ass Chinese food that sucks. I don’t know the name of anything. Oh, Scopello wine bar. Now that’s the way I like it.
I travel all the time and I like food. I always have. I just came back from a break in south India—I go every couple years—so I’ve been vegetarian for a few months—not for religions reasons. I’m an atheist.
I don’t like corporate food. I can’t eat it, it makes me sick. The idea of fast food is great. Cheap food for the masses is wonderful, utopian, socialist. But of course that’s not how it works. It’s about capitalism.
Choosing what to eat, it’s like judging a show. You go to the restaurant that has the good food. I’d rather have delicious food whether it’s cheap or expensive. I don’t want shitty food.
Dancers are famous for eating disorders.
Dancers are mythically anorexic.
By mythically you mean—
Look it up. Dancers have an unfounded reputation for eating disorders. My company is very intelligent adults feeding themselves nutritionally. They’re good cooks and they’re well nourished. What do you think of the recent attention on sustainable cuisine? The word artisinal is too stupid and new. It’s for pretentious dumb yuppies. I don’t even know how to pronounce it in English. I mean, look, I live in that world. I know Alice [Waters] and Babbo, et cetera.
But if you want Chinese food with brown rice and no MSG you might as well go to some awful health food store.
Shall we take a peek in the office fridge you share with the dancers?
We’ll just look at mine. I’m not responsible for anybody’s fucking eggbeaters.
This is Kerelan vegetable stew. It’s all real. It’s not pretend. I made it last night. It’s coconut milk, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, onions, cauliflower, sweet potato, potato, peas, bell pepper and mushroom. It doesn’t look good. It tastes good. That’s how delicious it is—that’s why there’s hardly any left.
It’s really very good. I have salad day once a month with my staff. It used to be once a week. Everybody brings something that makes a salad happen. I usually make a dressing. What’s worse than bottled dressing? My dressing is sherry vinegar and rice vinegar, an egg yolk, fresh herbs, shallots and garlic. I mix it enough to let the acid “cook” the egg. And olive oil.
Sometimes we have sushi delivered. The packaged soy is so shitty. Even Kikoman is better.
That big beer is a gift. I’ve had it a couple years.
My favorite beer is Sapporo. I’m happy to endorse Sapporo. It’s a great beer. It has delicious flavor. It’s not dry and gross. It’s not sweet like a repulsive Heineken. Americans like sweet lager. Usually if something is Japanese, it’s better. All these micro-whatevers are just gilding the lily. But Brooklyn lager is very good. [Looking at the can.] I don’t like the bottles as much.
It’s pretty much pure chili. It works for everything. Thai, Chinese, whatever. It doesn’t just taste hot. It tastes like red chilis.
Piranha over fridge
I used to have this on my toilet. It made men very uncomfortable. It’s a fish ain’t it. And it eats people.
I don’t usually leave the fridge open like this. See it’s making that running-water sound. That means it’s having a nervous breakdown.