- She says she still has the burkini and will still wear it
- She would never ask her husband Charles Saatchi to stop smoking, even though her late husband John Diamond died from throat cancer
Nigella is on a gruelling ten-day book tour in America to promote her latest publication, 'Nigellissima'. She says the 'wiggle' dress is her dress of choice
Her famous curves are poured into a shocking pink ‘Diva’ wiggle dress as she pouts and poses for pictures and swaps recipes with overweight American housewives, remaining unfailingly cheerful.
Much later, as the last satisfied customer leaves the shop clutching a signed copy of the domestic goddess’s new book, she turns to me and says: ‘I was in a terrible state earlier in the car, a total nervous wreck. I loathe being late. It is the epitome of bad manners. I’d hate anyone to think I was rude.’
It seems extraordinary that a woman who has built an empire estimated to be worth £10 million with her unique, lusty approach to food, still cares so much about what people think.
Yet in our wide-ranging and candid interview, Nigella is typically forthright about that infamous picture of her in a burkini, how she protects her children against the perils of fame, how cooking keeps her sane and why those ‘wiggle’ dresses give her the confidence to face the cameras.
‘Like any woman, I dress for comfort and I find those dresses the most comfortable,’ she says,
‘Everything in my life comes down to basic laziness. I buy the dresses, mostly online, and I’ve learned what flatters my figure and what feels good and is affordable. It’s as simple as that. It’s funny when people pay so much attention to my appearance because, quite honestly, it’s the thing I think least about. I rarely look in a mirror.
‘The wiggle dresses are a uniform. They help me feel confident when I’m working. In private, I’m happiest in a dressing gown and FitFlops.’
We meet earlier at a Hollywood hotel to discuss Nigella’s current quest to conquer America. Her new TV cookery show – The Taste – has earned her millions of new fans here and she’s on a gruelling ten-day book tour.
Curling her legs underneath her on the sofa, Nigella seems blissfully unaware of the mesmerising effect she is having on every man in the room. The waiter hovers hopefully and practically purrs with delight when she bats her long eyelashes and orders water with a spritz of cranberry.
She laughs when I tell her I’d expected her to be ‘more posh’, and says: ‘Yes, I don’t understand why people think I speak with a mouthful of plums. I sound pretty normal, don’t I?’
At 53, her skin is alabaster white; flawless and poreless. She wears no jewellery except a simple wedding band from her husband, art collector Charles Saatchi, and a tiny gold charm necklace also from him. I ask what he bought her for Valentine’s Day.
‘I’m the Grinch of Valentine’s Day,’ she says, ‘I think it should be about teenagers and those who are single. I think if I said I wanted to do something for Valentine’s Day or made a big fuss Charles would think I’d gone slightly mad.’
Happy couple: Nigella, pictured with her husband Charles Saatchi, says St Valentine's day is for young lovers and singletons
She rolls her eyes. ‘I still have the burkini and will always wear it because I don’t like the sun on my body. I’d worn it for years and no one ever noticed it was me but then I was shopped by an Australian journalist and those pictures came out.’
She is looking particularly trim. What does she think of the obsession about her fluctuating weight?
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