(Photo by Matt Duckor)
By Julia Bainbridge, Bon Appétit
Our favorite "I Love the 80s" commentator, "Food(ography)" host, and all-around funny guy Mo Rocca may be 43 years old, but "I still don't know how to cook and that's just unacceptable," he says. "Who better to learn from than the old masters, other people's grandparents?" That's the idea behind "My Grandmother's Ravioli", his new show on the Cooking Channel: He goes into people's homes and learns to cook from them. So far, he's gotten venison stew and kreplach under his belt, and come to the conclusion that gefilte fish, which he learned from Scarsdale grandma Ruth Tieg, "needs some re-branding or better PR. The real stuff is fluffy and light and wonderful." Catch Rocca with Tieg on the show's premiere on the Cooking Channel. Until then, let's get into Rocca's morning routine.
Generally I get up at around 7:00. But oftentimes, I'll be lolling in bed a little bit earlier -- sometimes as early as 5:45 -- filing in my mind all the things I have to get done. Which is, of course, totally unproductive.
I have a Keurig coffee maker, which is really kind of a luxury. It was given to me by an ex. I realized when I'm feeling sentimental, I'll gently, tenderly press the button. Then when I remember he dumped me, I punch it. I've anthropomorphized my Keurig. The Keurig is like a Pixar character in my world.
I have a bunch of mugs. One I got in Bodega Bay, where Hitchcock's Birds was filmed. So I have that on a mug -- the schoolhouse and the birds attacking. It's not the most calming image in the morning! The other one is from Parade magazine. I've always read it, and so I tweeted that I liked it or something and they sent me a mug! Then I have one from Syracuse. It says, "Syracuse. Go Orange!" I was interviewing someone there about board games -- about how they've survived in the face of video games. And they gave me a mug. I also have a mug from Guggenheim Bilbao. I can't tell if it's actually titanium, but I do know if you put it in the microwave, it will start sparking. Then another one is a mug from a really good friend from college, Katherine. Her father took a photograph of hers [of us] and put it on a mug. At that point, around 20 years ago, it seemed impossibly high-tech. It says Mo Mug 1, as if it was going to be part of a series or something. I'm a presidential history buff, so I have two mugs featuring LBJ's family.
I just moved into this new apartment. It's the first one I purchased and I'm proud and excited and I love the view. But living in it before was a German guy who remade the place completely with that German attention to detail, so the bathroom has one of those annoying European half-glass curtain showers. I have to have coffee just so I can focus on how to shower in a precise way that doesn't flood my bathroom floor. Europe is a mess right now, but obviously they know how to take a shower without making a mess. It's like Sissy Spacek in the opening scene of Carrie -- that's how I feel when I'm taking a shower here.
About three times a week, I go to the gym for a session with a trainer. So I eat something to give me the energy for the gym. The one thing that's my specialty: instant oatmeal. I put mostly water, a little bit of milk, and I wait for it to boil right up to the edge. Then I take a big dollop of cottage cheese and I'll put it in the middle. And then I take applesauce and put it in the middle of that. I like the combo of hot and cold.
Then, I used to have a glass of orange juice, but I would start nodding off on the subway before I even got to the gym. One of my trainers -- I've been through so many -- Guillaume from the Cote d'Ivoire... Or no! It was Sean. Sean told me it was because of all the sugar -- I was crashing from it. So now I only have an inch of orange juice with water the rest of the way.
I usually take the subway to work. Sometimes I get lazy and I'll take a cab. I always have "things." I'm always working on a few different stories at once, so there's always some really big coffee table book I'm carrying around.