One of the few female celebrity cooks, Nigella celebrates her femininity with gusto and enthusiasm. Her liking for rich, indulgent recipes, and midnight fridge-raids have become infamous, alongside her penchant for innuendo and ridiculous adjectives to viscerally describe food as she eats it. Is it possible for an English student NOT to have a crush on someone who says she will try not to eat something ‘too rambunctiously’ in the advert for their new TV show? I don’t think it is. Nigella is flamboyant, glamorous, and she really enjoys her food – crush-worthy qualities in anyone’s book.
The culinary queen has recently come under fire after the first episode of her new show ‘Simply Nigella’ features recipes that are deemed too simple, such as avocado on toast. However, as she says in a promo video for her show: ‘All my books have been snapshots into where I am in my life at any given time’, and if she, at the moment, wants to lather the ‘buttery green flesh’ of an avocado onto a piece of toast then I am all for it – especially if it’s mixed up with ginger, dill, lime and on a German sunflower seed bread called Dinkelbrot. The title, ‘Simply’, says it all. Nigella has never claimed to be a trained chef, and she isn’t known for her innovative, cutting edge techniques. She’s a home cook, creating delicious recipes that are easy to follow. Her ‘Nigella Express’ book is possibly the most well-used cookbook in my family home; my mum worked most days of the week and her recipes for simple, nutritious meals with ingredients that are easily available were a saviour. I am practically made out of the Thai-style prawn curry and chicken and cannellini bean stew, and her chocolate pear pudding was one of the first desserts I learnt how to make (and subsequently made for EVERY following family occasion). She offers ideas for every lifestyle and occasion that are easy for the most casual of home cooks to follow, but that the most dedicated foodies will also appreciate.
Nigella’s personal life has been widespread public knowledge in recent years; the break up of her marriage and unjust allegations have plagued recent press articles about her. It is a shame her private life has had so much publicity – such is the nature of celebrity – but the knowledge of her turbulent past makes her more genuine and personable despite the glamorous exterior. Her very British attitude of picking herself up, dusting herself off and carrying on is something that will be appreciated and admired by many.
After almost 20 years of writing cookbooks and making television shows, Nigella Lawson’s exuberant use of outrageously gaudy language is used knowingly, it is her trademark, and any criticism of this can easily be rebuked with the awareness that it is all just a bit of fun. It’s fantastic to see a tough, resilient but also potently feminine cook have such resounding success in a profession that is largely dominated by men, and at the root of it all she is great entertainment, and can write a really delicious recipe.
Photo: Charles Birchmore/BBC