Elettra Wiedemann is a woman after our own hearts; seriously, she’s as obsessed with fashion and food as we are. We are longtime fans of her site, Impatient Foodie, and can’t wait to get our hands on her new book (which comes out tomorrow!). Read below for the full interview, but fair warning: her ideal food day is bound to have you craving tortellini…
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
I mean, really, if I could eat tortellini drowned in pesto, olive oil, and parmesan for every meal, I’d be extremely happy. If I had a genie in a bottle with three wishes, two would be for mankind and the environment. My last one would be that tortellini with pesto has the nutritional value of a kale salad full of superfoods.
How do you practice beauty from the inside out?
I work out 3-4 times a week doing Orange Theory Fitness. Sometimes, I throw in a yoga class at Jivamukti to stretch it all out. I don’t drink a lot of alcohol, beyond the occasional glass of wine or, if I am feeling really saucy (or I’ve had a horrible day), a vodka martini. Other than that, I eat lots of vegetables and whole grains. I have a weakness for cheese, which is probably not great, but important for calcium (at least, that’s what I tell myself). I am really trying to wean myself off meat fully, but as I am anemic, sometimes in the middle of the night I’ll wake up and a voice in my head will be yelling “EAT SOME ANIMAL PROTEIN RIGHT NOW.” I am not joking or exaggerating. I’ve tried to assuage this voice with iron rich beans and stuff, but sometimes a gal just needs a chicken breast.
What are your morning and nightly beauty routines?
What’s your personal mantra?
In the words of Nas, “Bet your jewels on it, you don’t want to lose on it, either move on or move on it.”
What’s a common misconception about home cooking?
I think that lots of people think that when they make a meal, they should be mimicking what they see or eat in restaurants. Like, for example, a roast chicken has to be served with a puree (potato or parsnip, or something like that), a sauteed green, and toasted nuts on top. That’s a lot of work!
For me, dinner is so much simpler than that: sometimes, it’ll just be a sweet potato with miso butter and some scallions! Or, if I am not starving, a delicious toast (I love mayo and sliced heirloom tomato) with a salad. As long as its yummy and satisfying for you, that’s all that matters.
How do you practice balance?
I’ve become a lot more protective of my time and feel more comfortable saying “no” to things that I don’t want to do, or know won’t be a good fit. I am not sure why this suddenly has happened; maybe it has to do with getting older? My mom [Isabella Rossellini] is going to be sixty-five this year, and she says getting old is the most liberating thing because you just don’t give a f*** anymore. I also have started saying things to myself like, “OK, if I am going to crank Monday-Friday, then it’s my homework to do the opposite on Saturday and Sunday as much as possible.” If I don’t schedule in chill time, I’ll be running around, making myself busy every waking hour. Sometimes, it’s a little neurotic.
How do you keep it healthy when traveling?
I drink a lot of water and get a lot of fresh air. Also, I find that not eating when on the plane really helps. I eat a healthy meal before getting on a plane, drink a lot of water and rest while in the air, and then eat whatever meal of the day it is when I land. So, even if it’s breakfast for me but it’s dinner time where I land, I just jump right into their time zone. It’s not backed up by science or anything like that, but I find it really helps me to take the edge off jetlag.
What are your vices?
Bread and chocolate.
What would your last meal be? Who would it be with?
Tortellini with pesto with my family and closest friends.
What are your go-to weeknight recipes?
Honestly, it really depends on the week and how much I have going on. Recently, since its been so warm out, I’ve been making a lot of salads topped with feta cheese or burrata. I’ve also been loving Banza Pasta products. I cook up a sauce or make my famous vegan pesto (my friends call it “crack pesto”), and I get to feel like I am enjoying a bowl of pasta while getting an extra kick of much needed protein and fiber.
How do you always start your day? What’s your go-to breakfast?
Two shots of espresso from my Moka and either oatmeal or some scrambled eggs with toast.
Where do you love to travel? What won’t you travel without?
Traveling and exploring new places has been one of the greatest joys of my life. I am always happy to go anywhere and see anything whether it’s an urban experience, or backpacking/camping trip. What I bring with me depends on the place, but I always have a book and reading material. I love to use long flights and trips to catch up on issues of The New Yorker.
What are five essentials any healthy person should always have in their fridge? What’s always in your fridge?
I’d say: fresh vegetables, some kind of cheese (I like feta or goat cheese because they can be used on salads, pasta, or even on toast), Hampton Creek Mayo, cooked grains like quinoa or farro, and yummy versatile marinades/pastes/spreads, like my new obsession Tomato Nduja.
What foods trends do you think are overrated? Which are you into?
I don’t really follow food trends. If it’s anything of substance, it’ll be around long enough not to be a trend anymore. I just focus on what I like and what works for me.
What are your favorite cities for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?
It’s impossible to answer this question!
If you could host a dinner party with any five people, living or dead, who would be there? What would you cook?
Ever since watching her testimony, I am obsessed with Sally Yates, so she’d definitely be on my guest list! I’ve also always been a huge fan of David Remnick – one of my favorite all time writers. David Attenborough has brought me endless joy in life, I’d love to meet him. Of course, Martin Luther King would always be a dream to have a meal with. I’d be so interested to hear what he has to say about what’s happening in our world right now. Also, a woman I’ve admired hugely for many years, Wangari Maathai.
What advice would you give women looking in the mirror, and getting dressed in the morning?
If there’a mean voice in your head immediately judging you telling you that you’re not this enough or that enough, give it the middle finger. I actually wrote about this on Impatient Foodie.
In the same vein as ‘what is the new black’ in fashion, what’s the new potato?
*Elettra Wiedemann, photographed at Cafe Paulette in Brooklyn, NY by Danielle Kosann