Nigella Lawson: A review
I saw Nigella Lawson in conversation with Annabel Crabb last night and HOLY FAN GIRL, it was amazing. The tittering, besotted energy in the room was as tangible as clotted cream on a scone.
She is everything she purports to be and more.
It was such a thrill to hear the mellifluous voice of one of my feminist idols in real life.
I know it seems odd to call her that; she is after all, ‘the domestic goddess’ (she hates that term).
What I love about her is that she is so fantastically successful but also so human. That seems like a redundant description but in the interview she said that when people approach her in the street, she is fine about being photographed without make-up and hair askew because her ‘laziness outweighs my vanity’.
She also discussed the amount of media attention she has received, saying ‘I would rather be sneered at than be a sneerer’.
Other things she revealed: the fact that she has an array of condiments next to her bed including soy sauce (bad for expensive linen), hot English mustard, Maldon sea salt, tabasco and hot chilli sauce; that she is thinks roast chicken is the holy grail of home cooking (her mother always cooked two – one to eat immediately and one to eat cold); that her mother died at 48 of a terminal illness and was obsessed with her weight until she was dying (something that Nigella vehemently opposes, understandably) and that she thinks disease could come and get all of us, regardless of how much kale we eat, so we may as well bloody enjoy eating!
She said that she goes through phases. Her first book was her masala, ricotta and pea phase (How to Eat) and that her current book (Simply Nigella) is all about sweet potatoes and caramelised garlic. She also discussed – quite fascinatingly – the capitalism and gender politics of cookery and how the male dominated world of Chefs is revered simply because these professionals are ‘paid’ and home cooks are not.
She makes no apologies for using mushy peas that have the ‘artificial colouring of a Disney movie’. She loves low-brow and kitsch, as much as she loves Italian food due to her stint living and working there as a chamber maid.
Nigella has been one of my role models for a very long time. I grew my hair to try and emulate her (I know, CRINGE) but the power in following someone like Nigella is that she makes you feel good. She made me feel OK about being chunky and I felt encouraged that I could be sexy at size 16.
And that is the truth of Nigella’s magic: encouragement, meaning ‘to give courage’. Her writing – and her greater life – have been about encouraging people to cook, to try things, to experiment and, critically, to feel happy doing so.