Friday, March 1, 2013

Dark & Delicious

Feb 25, 2013 - Book Beast

Nigella Lawson cooks for the living—and for the dead.

"Someone asked me the other day for a low-calorie version of a cake recipe. I said: ‘You either give up this mean diet or you give up cake. It’s not a low-calorie thing to eat!'"

Nigella Lawson Profile
Nigella Lawson in her kitchen Hammersmith, London. (Brooke Webb/Rex)

Nigella Lawson, the best-selling Jane Austen of food writing, is sitting in a low-cut, wine-red wiggle-dress in the restaurant of the Four Seasons Hotel off Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. Her run as a judge on ABC’s new talent show The Taste has only just begun, and for the moment no one runs up to nag for autographs (though the men all shoot her glances). In England, where she is a megastar nicknamed the Domestic Goddess, such a public conversation would be impossible. She’s on a roll, eating, gesticulating, and shooting out jaunty put-downs. I ask about America’s problem with obesity.

“I don’t believe in indiscriminate greed: you have to understand the nature of restraint ... Most people have weight issues because they have hard lives. It’s all very well for the manicured ladies of the East Side to derive satisfaction by depriving themselves of food, but for most people food is the only affordable pleasure in their life. Eating is very pleasurable, I find.”

It’s for putting the pleasure back into eating that Nigella is originally known. Her breakthrough book was called How to Eat (as opposed to How to Cook), and her work is a paean to butter and full-fat milk, bright colors, rich sauces, and all things plumptious, delicious, and voluptuous. There is much more here than simple rebellion against the dictatorship of the diet. Between the ages of 25 and 40, before her career began in earnest, she lost her mother, then her sister, then her first husband to cancer. All three were only in their 30s or 40s when they died. Food (telling stories about food, eating food, analyzing the meaning of food, cooking food) is in part a way to make sense of the experience. She sits back when she talks about this, picks her words carefully

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