Five things you don’t know about EPA’s Gina McCarthy but should

 

New U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy delivers a speech at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass., Tuesday, July 30, 2013. During her speech, the first as the head of the EPA, McCarthy told an audience that curbing climate-altering pollution will strengthen the economy. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
New U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy delivers a speech at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass., Tuesday, July 30, 2013. During her speech, the first as the head of the EPA, McCarthy told an audience that curbing climate-altering pollution will strengthen the economy. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Gina McCarthy is finally heading the Environmental Protection Agency, after fielding more than 1,000 questions from U.S. senators and meeting or talking personally to 71 of them. Now that she’s on the job, here are five fun facts you might not learn about McCarthy in her official bio.

1. She’s a huge fan of cooking shows. McCarthy’s 27-year-old daughter Maggie McCarey disclosed this during her introduction of her mother Tuesday at Harvard Law School. While she watches a huge number of shows, McCarthy is partial to celebrity chef Ina Garten. “I love the Barefoot Contessa,” she said in an interview Tuesday. “I love her recipes, and I love her laugh.” She’s also partial to Giada de Laurentiis, who has good vegetarian recipes, and she will often watch shows as she reads documents in the evening. “I find it very comforting. I don’t know why.”

2. She golfs, but “not exceptionally well.” Rather than playing with Washington power brokers (such as President Obama or House Speaker John Boehner), McCarthy prefers to play with her son Daniel, whom she describes as “a pretty good golfer.”

3. She graduated from University of Massachusetts Boston with a degree in social anthropology, where she also focused on animal behavior and women’s studies. McCarthy studied both primitive cultures and primates, which she insists has prepared her well for her current task: “The study of primitive culture was the best education I could have for working in government.”

4. She doesn’t eat doughnuts. When McCarthy was 13, her mother worked in a doughnut factory and took her there on occasion at 4 a.m. to help out with the work; she’s never eaten the fried treats again. “It’s like making sausage,” she explained. She also inspected kitchens and can spot infractions in hotel and restaurant kitchens with a passing glance.

5. She considers the cleanup of Boston Harbor a major environmental achievement, but is a touch bitter about what it’s done to local real estate prices. “Right now that effort has been so successful I can no longer afford to live [in] any Boston waterfront property,” she quipped during her speech at Harvard Law School. “So I’m slightly resentful.”

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Sean Sullivan | July 31, 2013