Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

GUEST WORKOUT

Balancing God, the Sierra . . . and Rice Pudding

September 15, 1997|CANDACE A. WEDLAN

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony is visibly animated as he talks about cats, takeout chicken and rice pudding.

The 61-year-old cardinal is up before dawn, but not before his cat, Miguel.

"Either the fellow with the leaf blower wakes up Miguel or Miguel wakes him up, but the two of them start around 4:15. So, I resist till about 5," said the head of the nation's most populous Catholic archdiocese (3.6 million people).

Quiet time and prayers precede 30 minutes of exercise and a one-mile walk from his residence in downtown Los Angeles to the site of the new cathedral at Temple Street and Grand Avenue. "I'm doing a lot of reading on cathedral-building," the cardinal said.

Light reading includes books by Tom Clancy and John Grisham.

No fewer than three times a year, Mahony, who stands 6 feet, 3 inches, heads for his cabin in the mountains. He substitutes clerical garb with brown cords--"the color of the ground"--and hikes. "The high Sierra is the place where I find God the quickest and the fullest. You just can't get away from God's creation there. I don't think many atheists spend much time in the Sierra," he said, pausing with a smile so slight that you'd miss it if you weren't keeping up with his eye contact.

Question: This is probably the only time you get away from everything.

Answer: Yes, it's very free, totally peaceful. Not only do I love it, but I travel so much, when it comes to vacation time I don't want to see an airport, airplane, hotel.

*

Q: Or restaurants.

A: When I go up in the mountains, I just throw all the food on the barbecue--vegetables, fish, chicken--everything.

*

Q: You look like a disciplined eater. You're lean.

A: Well, yeah, but I have a new doctor and he wants about 8 pounds off.

*

Q: I thought you were holding steady at 170.

A: I went to 178. The problem is, as you get older your metabolism is slower. When I was younger I could get rid of 10 pounds in a day if I had to. But the older I get, it's a real struggle.

*

Q: What do you eat?

A: I don't eat very much. That's what amazes me. Breakfast is a cup of coffee and a piece of toast with honey. I never touch butter. I like to slice up loaves of bread, put them in the freezer and just take out a slice at a time. I usually don't eat lunch, maybe a piece of fruit. That's it.

*

Q: What do you drink?

A: Water or fruit juices. I've got several Snapples in my refrigerator.

*

Q: Dining out as much as you have to do, how do you watch it and not hurt the host's feelings?

A: Well, there is a balance between taking care of yourself and hurt feelings. When push comes to shove, I go into taking care of myself. I love a buffet where you can fix your own salad or fruit plate. I find some of the better caterers in town are doing that now. If they do give you a prepared plate, it's usually enough food for eight. I hate to waste food. So, I invite the waiter or waitress over and say, "Now, do me a favor. See that plate there--about a fourth of that, please."

*

Q: I read that you know the best joints for takeout chicken.

A: Yeah. (He laughs.)

*

Q: So it's true?

A: No, not really. Let me just say that one thing that's great about Los Angeles is you've got so many ways to get barbecued or grilled chicken. You've got El Pollo Loco, Koo Koo Roo, California Pizza Kitchen. Then there's tandoori chicken, and right here in Koreatown we've got an enormous selection as well as a lot of African American places. The place minutes from your L.A. Times building, the Original Texas Barbecue King, is fantastic. They do everything--smoked, barbecued, you name it. Their chicken is to die for.

*

Q: I also heard that you cannot resist rice pudding.

A: Rice pudding. Yeah, in fact, I'm having a terrible dilemma now.

*

Q: Why?

A: Because somebody has finally come out commercially with a fantastic rice pudding. Before I didn't worry about it because the stuff was junk. By the way, I love to browse in the supermarket. It's a great education. But I saw this new packaged rice pudding and it is really very good. I like raisins a lot, so I'll mix them in.

*

Q: I've just about given up ordering rice pudding in restaurants.

A: Yes, most of it's so bad, but the Hilton hotels probably have the best recipe for rice pudding. I wrote to the chef at one of the Hilton restaurants, the Waldorf Astoria, for the recipe.

*

Q: Did you get it?

A: I got a letter back very graciously from him with the recipe. Well, I started looking at the ingredients--5 pounds of this, 2 gallons of that--and it was rice pudding for 100 people. I just howled, you know? I guess he thought I was going to make it for the church or the parish. So I wrote back, thanked him profusely and said, "Is there any chance you could give this to me for six people?" He wrote back and I got it.

*

Q: Listen to you. You really are an expert.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|