McCartney feeds off food for friends

- Kim Willis USA TODAY

In a weekly series, USA TODAY’s The Essentials, celebritie­s share what fuels their lives. ⬤ Mary McCartney’s plans for Friday revolve around cream of tomato soup. ⬤ “I have a whole big saucepan downstairs, ready-made for the weekend,” the photograph­er and vegan cooking star says of her favorite comfort food, which she recently packed into a thermos and delivered to Cate Blanchett on a movie set. “I’m going to have some now.” ⬤ The recipe appears in McCartney’s new plant-based cookbook, “Feeding Creativity” (Taschen, 279 pp.), along with her portrait of Blanchett spooning it up, a thick slice of toasted sourdough in hand for dunking. Dozens more famous faces fill the pages: Mary’s photos of Drew Barrymore, Michelle Yeoh, Gigi and Bella Hadid and dad Paul McCartney are paired with the recipes she served them, including smokey black-eyed bean stew and beet-and-carrot blini bites. ⬤ “I love going into people’s environmen­ts, and I love feeding people,” she says. ⬤ McCartney, 54, co-founder of Meat-Free Monday, shares her cooking essentials with USA TODAY:

The kitchen gadgets she can’t live without

Aside from her favorite kitchen knife and vegetable peeler, “the thing I use most is the stick blender. You can make smoothies, blend soups, make pesto with it.

“I do have a KitchenAid (stand mixer), which is pretty great as well. Life’s too short to hand-whisk.”

She doesn’t wear an apron, but she does put on a playlist

“I have two or three aprons that I love, but for some reason, it’s never been part of my process. I end up getting flour and flicking tomato sauce on myself.

“But I do make sure I have a good playlist on while I’m cooking.

“My taste is eclectic, based around any songs that make me feel good: Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, Wings, Massive Attack, Gorillaz and Little Simz, Celeste and on and on. Some days I opt for purely classical and instrument­al, currently cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason.”

What do Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr eat together?

Paul isn’t crazy about spicy food. And Ringo is allergic to onions and garlic. So McCartney had to get creative when she cooked lunch for the two Beatles at her dad’s place in London.

Starr eats “blueberrie­s, broccoli, a lot of asparagus. He likes baked potatoes,” she says. “I could have just made him a dessert. But I liked the challenge of coming up with a whole new recipe for him.”

She settled on a creamy pasta with peas and asparagus, topped with toasted breadcrumb­s. To amp up the flavor without alliums, “lemon is amazing, it’s one of my favorites. It’s sort of tangy and zesty and vibrant.” She also likes nutritiona­l yeast flakes: “They have this really amazingly interestin­g nutty, cheesy flavor.”

The celebritie­s she still aspires to feed and photograph

“David Attenborou­gh − I’d love, love, love to cook for him, that would be pretty incredible. And I always think Dolly Parton would be fun.”

Mary McCartney’s favorite food memory

“One time I was with my mum (vegetarian pioneer and photograph­er Linda McCartney, who died of breast cancer in 1998), we made blueberry pancakes and got back in bed and watched a movie.” That inspired the “quite practical” sheet-pan pancakes Mary made for Cameron Diaz, which are oven-baked.

“I definitely cook recipes connected to (my mother). It makes me think of her and that makes me happy. That’s a very potent way of rememberin­g someone and doing it in a positive way rather than something that makes you really sad.”

She indulges in treat food: ‘I don’t like to be too healthy’

“I love potato chips and fries and things like that. I am a real snacker. Mainly savory stuff, but then yesterday, I was snacking on chocolate-covered nuts, so you feel like you’re getting the nutrition and a real sugar kick at the same time. I like popcorn.

“It’s sort of about balance, and I don’t like to be too healthy,” she says. “I know we’re meant to eat for health, but I like to eat for pleasure and sneak in nutrition rather than be too righteous about it.”

Her tips for easing into eating vegan

“Have a bit of fun researchin­g what you like. Think of a couple of ingredient­s you love and Google it and come up with some recipes. Try not to make it a chore and keep it simple,” she says.

“And it can be really affordable: beans, rice, a can of tomatoes, dried herbs, chili flakes, some garlic.

“I like things to be quite accessible, it doesn’t have to be costly to make something tasty.”

She still gets recognized as the baby from the ‘McCartney’ album

Macca fans know her as the bright-eyed baby peering out of Paul’s coat on his first solo album in 1970, an iconic photo taken by Linda.

“It always makes me smile” whenever anyone makes the connection, she says.

“It’s such an authentic photograph and a spontaneou­s moment, and that’s why people love it. And it’s slightly odd. A baby zipped up in a jacket!”

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

 ?? PROVIDED BY TASCHEN ?? Mary McCartney’s new cookbook, “Feeding Creativity,” includes her photos of celebritie­s alongside the recipes she prepared for them.
PROVIDED BY TASCHEN Mary McCartney’s new cookbook, “Feeding Creativity,” includes her photos of celebritie­s alongside the recipes she prepared for them.

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