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Nigella Lawson Serves up Italian Fantasy with Nigellissima

By Periscope @periscopepost
Nigella Lawson: Italian domestic goddess. Photo Credit: Smaku Nigella Lawson: Italian domestic goddess. Photo Credit: Flickr.

The background

Nigella sticks to what she does best in Nigellissima, her new BBC2 show that premiered last night. She cooks up her signature mix of sex and food, in a kitchen that will induce pangs of jealousy and with a menu that will no doubt induce many a cardiac arrest. Her focus here is an exploration of Italian cooking with, as the creative title would suggest, a Nigella twist.

Italianate cooking

Nigellissima is Nigella’s foray into the food of her gastronomic home: Italy. Typically, she takes Italian classics and exposes them to her unique treatment. The Telegraph observed that “she gave a British twist to certain Italian dishes – one such being pizza and meatballs to make a fun looking, crustless children’s meal called ‘meatzza.’”  She is perfectly suited to this entertaining form of cooking, said the The Telegraph: “She understands the emotional significance of food better than anyone else around. She really gets that taste can evoke and influence mood. And she gets that most of us are quite lazy, hence her taking the bold flavours of Italy and applying her ‘express’ approach to them.” The Independent praised that “she is positively Sophia Lorenesque here, which fits rather nicely with the food – a kind of naturalised Notting Hill version of Italian dishes.”

Fantasy kitchen

The Guardian’s Sam Wollaston made the decision to cook along with Nigella, to put her express approach to the test. The result was less an investigation into the ease of her recipes, and more of an exercise in Nigella lifestyle envy. Commenting on her perfect kitchen, he said. “I have to make repeated dashes to the shops to fetch loveliness in packets, because I don’t have those pots. And in my kitchen all that hangs from the ceiling is spaghetti, from doing the is-it-cooked ceiling test.” Wollaston argued that part of Nigella’s appeal is the fantasy that she provides. “For she is very good at one thing, and one thing only, and that is feeding our fantasies about cooking perfect food, in a perfect kitchen, with a perfect smile, while never losing our composure, breaking anything, or running out of crucial ingredients,” praised The Telegraph’s Nigel Farndale.

Gluttonous overload

Despite its sumptuous appeal, it seems that Nigella’s Italian feast is certainly not for the weak hearted. The Times called her “a sexy version of the Very Hungry Caterpillar” who is credited with telling us, like a culinary Gordan Gekko, that “greed is good.” Her fearless inclusion of food so good it’s actually naughty seems to be both appealing and risky. “The dance between food-fantasy and food-reality is always a giddy one when she’s around, and I don’t see how that can possibly harm anyone … except the NHS,” joked The Times.

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