Former longtime Sacramento Bee editorial page editor and columnist Peter Schrag is the author of several books, including California: America’s High-Stakes Experiment and Not Fit for Our Society: Immigration and Nativism in America. Before participating in a panel on the past and future of direct democracy in California, he got personal with Zócalo on everything from cooking to music to pet peeves.
Q. What’s your favorite movie candy?
A. I don’t have any, except for popcorn.
Q. What do you think is the optimal outdoor temperature?
A. Cool enough for my wife and warm enough for me.
Q. What’s the last book you loved?
A. Maybe Night Train to Lisbon, the author of which I’ve forgotten [Pascal Mercier], which I read about a year ago. More recently, I like Sarah Dunant. I like good fiction-I read a lot of fiction. Currently I’m reading an Ian Rankin mystery.
Q. What dish do you make best?
A. Mostly things like veal scaloppini, or sometimes I cook a one-dish meal. Last night I cooked three ears of corn at 11 p.m.
Q. If you were going on American Idol, what song would you choose to perform?
A. The songs I like, almost nobody would recognize. They’re all basically show tunes from the 1920s, ’30s, ’40s, [and] some are from the ’50s. If somebody made me sing something, on pain of death, I’d sing one of them.
Q. What’s your favorite venue to see a live performance?
A. Probably the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, or maybe Covent Garden-or any number of good theaters.
Q. What do you love to hate?
A. Stupidity-my favorite topic of hate, especially public stupidity. Do you want some names? [Smiles.]
Q. What talent would you like to have?
A. There are two things I’d like to be in my next life. I’d like to be a cellist-I’ve never played any instrument-and I’d like to be an archeologist.
Q. What word do you find yourself using most often?
A. Ask my readers! I just read something, and I know that I use the phrase “not surprisingly” way too often.
*Photo by Aaron Salcido