Whilst I love Nigella Lawson's cookery books, I'm not sure I can say the same for her TV shows. Or at least, not her current one, Nigella Kitchen. Whilst I am definitely someone who revels in the beauty of food, I find Nigella's mini odes to whatever ingredients she is using rather tedious. It's an avocado, Nigella, not an array of "jade cubes". We can all see it's a lovely-looking trifle, but do we really need our attention called to "how beautiful these juicy beaded blackberries look glinting darkly out of that pale billowing duvet of cream"? Every single ingredient is preceded with a comment beginning "I love..." - it might be the "peppery heat of ginger", or the crunch of pine nuts, or the sound of a chicken's backbone breaking (I found the manic smile of satisfaction on her face as she crushed the poor bird before braising rather disturbing), but cooking for Nigella is not just cooking: it's an excuse for waxing rhapsodical about every ingredient under the sun, with a lustful enthusiasm that makes me feel slightly ill.
I also find her recipes fairly uninspiring - apart from a couple of strokes of genius (the pork knuckles and the Venetian carrot cake have gone on my "to-make" list), her entire repertoire seems to consist of dishes in which one can "indulge", and which require very little skill or imagination, but at least four forms of saturated fat (I am thinking in particular of the 'Grasshopper Pie' - butter, cream, chocolate, Oreo cookies, milk, creme de menthe...). Whilst I'm sure her linguine from the last episode would have tasted great, to me, mixing double cream, truffle oil, an egg and huge handfuls of grated parmesan into a mound of slippery pasta is neither cooking nor nutrition.
Meat comes out of the oven, and it's a "carnal unveiling". Which leads me onto my next point, and that is, the reason why I continue to watch Nigella Kitchen. Its plethora of food-related innuendoes is highly entertaining. Whether it's a gratuitous shot of Mrs Lawson's cleavage as she discusses her "glistening lemon cream", her constant remarks that she loves to "use her hands", or the way she comes downstairs in a negligee to make a bowl of "slut's spaghetti" and take it back with her to bed (the bowl, I might add, containing enough carbohydrate to feed a family of nine), or the remark, "I can't tell you how good it is squidging things out of that bag" (referring, of course, to using a piping bag to make churros doughnuts), I never fail to be amused by the way she can turn even the most innocent foodstuff into something filthy.
So there I was, now on episode eight of Nigella Kitchen (I just can't stay away...it feels so wrong it's almost right), and the buxom lady herself started to whip up a teriyaki chicken with rice noodles and sugar snap peas. Fairly simple and not particularly life-changing, admittedly, but it did look rather good. 48 hours later and I found myself emulating the domestic goddess: marinating chicken thighs in a mixture of mirin, sake, soy sauce, brown sugar, grated ginger and sesame oil, before stir-frying them and their marinade with sugar snap peas and baby corn.
Now, I am no Nigella. For one thing, my cleavage does not have a life of its own. Nor do I decorate my kitchen with fairy lights. I don't feel the need to include double cream in nearly every meal, and the idea of eating in bed disgusts me. But I'm pretty sure my teriyaki chicken tasted every bit as good as hers.
Thanks to Jon for the photos.