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I am not in the habit of watching TV celebrity cook programmes (or any kind of cook programmes, for that matter), as I am more than happy to acknowledge my incompetence in the kitchen. Afterall, what are take aways, restaurants and husbands for, if not to provide sweet little me with yummy things to stuff my face with? However, this being half term and the weather being icky, what did I find myself doing? That's right, watching 'Nigella Bites', with an enthralled hubby by my side.
I confess now that I have a bit of a soft spot for Nigella. Anyone whose father is such an egomaniac that, when the anticipated son turns out to be a girl, he invents a girly equivalent of his own name with which to christen her deserves fame, fortune and a modicum of happiness. I long enjoyed reading her weekly column in 'The Observer' and am sad that the death of her husband seems to have put paid to it. I love her ostentatiously titled 'How to be a Domestic Goddess' and truly believe her when she insists that she was being ironic when choosing such a title. Bearing in mind my positive predisposition towards her before watching her on TV you may be surprised at what will follow.
As I sat enscounced in my own (slightly less bougeoise, slightly less designer) haven of domestic bliss, I became increasingly annoyed at the telly Nigella. Why? Several reasons. And no, not one of them is to do with the fact that she really is stunningly gorgeous and seems genuinely nice to know to boot. Bitch! No, it was the whole timbre of the programme.
Shot one: Nigella in curlers discussing the show with her programme designers. Shot two: Nigella taking her lovely children to school. Shot three: Nigella revealing her amply larder to the camera whilts coo-ing that she just 'could not live without' ingredients x-y-z. Shot four: Nigella creating a deliciously wicked recipe with effortless ease whilst talking to the camera in such a way that it seems ALL women should be so natural when in the kitchen.
You get my drift? Maybe you don't, but I found myself strangely dissatisfied by this Stepford-wifesque portrayal of a clearly extra-ordinary woman as a normal contemporary woman juggling motherhood, wifehood and career with the greatest of ease. Sorry, but why does Nigella never end up with floury handprints on her boobs and bum? With sticky dough in her hair? I refuse to believe that I am the only woman who, when she does venture into the kitchen, leaves it looking like a bomb has gone off in it.
Then there's the recipe contents. Why does every TV chef or chefess delude themselves into thinking that the great demi-gods of domestic shopping are going to stock some of the more obscure ingredients they insist on using? It took my beloved years to track down kafir lime leaves to make the perfect Thai curry sauce, by which time the anticipation had grown so much that the damn dish couldn't help but fail to live up to our over-inflated expectations!! This is coupled with the assumption that we all have tucked away in our larders such delights as 'garlic-infused extra-virgin olive oil' and molasses sugar. I don't know about you, dear Ciao readers, but up here in the north we use chip fat for our culinary dalliances! And as for extra virgins called Olive, well ... there's not many of them to the pound in Wigan on a Saturday night, I can tell thi'!
But there is one fact that annoyed me above all others - LONG SLEEVES. In all the cooking-shots I saw of Nigella she was wearing beautifully tailored, long-sleeved clothes that never once showed signs of ingredients having inched their way up from the mixing bowl. Come on!! And then she 'slips into something more comfortable' - ie satin jim-jams and matching satin kimono with slippy satin sleeves just waiting to unravel into a bowl of spaghetti.
I hoped for so much more than this. Nigella Lawson, either consciously or otherwise, has allowed herself to be hailed as an icon and role model for contemporary womanhood. She insists that she is just like all the rest of us, dealing with the daily stresses of a hum-drum existence. So why, oh why, oh why does she allow herself to be packaged and marketed insuch an idealised, unattainable way?
Alas, maybe I'm just the wrong gender. Maybe I'm jut an inadequate excuse for a woman. I don't know, but I know that I can never make a hunk of left over ham and a pack of spaghetti into an exciting meal for two!
I love Nigella's cooking show -- and I view her as a role model to women everywhere. I love how she loves what she does with a passion. -Sarah :)
anna_mcnally 22.12.2001 01:48
I too cannot cook without covering myself with flour but I still worship the ground Nigella walks on.
Cazz 15.06.2001 15:38
I think the things that wind you up are the same reasons I love/hate her... who couldn't be a Domestic Goddess in that kitchen? But I love the way the woman just loves her food - I can't imagine Delia licking her fingers or smearing avocado on her face!