Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Nigella and Me

Imagine.  Lovely cubes of pancetta bronzing in a skillet.  A splosh of vermouth, a drizzle of double cream.  Imagine tumbling the golden pasta strands into the pan, the whisked egg , the salty cheese and if, like me…like her comely British self, you go uncharacteristically mute—rapt with wonder and greed for what you’re about to taste, you find yourself in that pausing pleasure place, suspended agony and delight mingled and, helpless now, you watch Nigella Lawson alone “going in” for a taste of her Spaghetti Carbonara.

True confessions…. I’ve recently become a Cooking Channel junkie.  I’m a nut for watching other people cook and I realized not so long ago, it’s become just one of many quirky ways for me to take in sustenance without literally eating.  It’s a way to get nourished by foodie ideas, then take or leave them.  TV Food shows serve up choice and celebration over tyranny; a vast spectrum of savory and sweet offerings and approaches.  The cumulative result (for me) has been more consciousness about what I choose to eat, and more joy in the process of choosing and making it. Additionally, my food voyeurism ignites an attitude of pleasure I’d lost over the years as I labored to serve sustenance to my family and others with the voices of apologetic and martyred Grandmothers and Mothers in my head.

Nigella, among a few other Cooking Network Goddesses and Gods, offers personality and inadvertent life coaching for free, if you’re in the market for it.  While I’ve never been given to midnight refrigerator raids, I do love a good lick of a cookie mixing bowl and a new voice in my head to say, “Oh, please, just enjoy it!" Given my proclivities, comfort eating has played a role in my journey, with mostly negative results.  The permissive, celebratory voice has a way of making me less hungry.

On the road to healthier eating and attitudes, surprisingly, Nigella has become a great stand-in for my hedonistic, orally fixated persona, since she, curvaceous, flirty, confident, careless and ever-creative, demonstrates how to throw caution to the wind and celebrate greed over vanity with a wink. She looks gorgeous with a chocolaty spoon in her mouth.  She offers up ideas for feeding ourselves and our loved ones simply, richly and well after we’ve turned off the television.  And she convinces us that curves are beautiful and pleasure is…, well, something we need to remember we’re entitled to!  

But Nigella, my queen, wouldn’t be Nigella without her WORDS!  In a recent survey of one show, I noted just a few that seduced me into a swoon.  How about the velvety swirl of potted chocolate, another knob of butter, idiotically vibrant pureed peas, a tumble, a whisk, a dribble, a dollop.  And seriously, when was the last time you experienced the resinous aroma of fresh rosemary? Makes you want to dive in after whatever’s being “done to” doesn’t it?  Those fabulously eggy, cheesy, bacony post-pub, one-skillet snacks.  Ummmmm.   While I won’t indulge in most of these offerings, sometimes I can FEEL like I’ve indulged, just by summoning them up.  Turns out,  just listening and watching and writing this can be quite satisfying.  Thank you Nigella.

BLR for the Poplar Grove Muse


  1. Brilliant! I've heard Nigella on the radio, and own a few cookbooks, but I'm going to check her out onscreen. I'm HUNGRY (to watch her)!

    Thanks, MKP

  2. Yum, delicious!