I am the kind of person who, though it may not always seem like it, is prone to bouts of extreme sentimentality. For example; I still have the teddy bear that I loved as a child (and still love, though I no longer sleep with it). I hang on to gifts from loved ones, and assign a great deal of importance to things which are in reality perhaps not as valuable as I think. I find myself in the middle of eating with a bunch of friends of loved ones and think to myself, “Aww, look at us, happy memories!”. Full disclosure, I have been known to say that out loud on occasion. I guess all I’m saying is that I like to recognise an important moment, or an important thing, or an important person when they come along. I like to squeeze every last drop of goodness or enjoyment out of things while they last, which brings me to the subject of Kitchen, by Nigella Lawson. This is the kind of book that feels as though it comes directly from a loving, extremely maternal – but also saucy – Aunt, Mother, Grandmother, Nana, Sister, Friend or Cellmate. Wait, scratch that last one. I have always loved Nigella’s writing, for both her ability to weave food into the most base level life experiences, and for her ability to so accurately describe how we relate to food in our everyday. Though we are separated by time and distance, I feel we have so much in common. Wishful thinking? Let’s see – how much like a gorgeous, voluptuous, uber successful, well read, Oxford educated, multi-lingual, British television presenter am I? Heaps, obviously. We’re almost identical. And perhaps this is why I enjoyed her work so much. The world of cookbook writing has changed a great deal, over the past 20 years in particular. I came into the world at the very beginning of the advent of the celebrity chef, and am now seeing the food trend escalate to dramatic and ever-increasing heights of drama. Home cooks are not as lauded as they once were, and yet bloggers, like yours truly, are publishing huge amounts of food content daily. There is a degree of elitism in cooking, certainly amongst the hardcore foodies, where trained professionals are treated with a combination of saint-like reverence and respect, and rock-star levels of awe (just imagine the contestants on Masterchef when they met Jamie Oliver). Yet, the trend seems to be for food literature of all styles, and as much of it as we can produce, indiscriminate of the quality or value of what is actually produced. “Celebrity” cookbooks are an excellent example of the genre. Apparently merely being famous is enough to qualify you to be the author of an instructional cookery manual. Who knew? In the midst of this food frenzy, Nigella’s Kitchen is like a port in a storm. She is not a trained chef, and never claimed to be, even before the fad for 1950’s housewife nostalgia came to fruition. She is simply a woman with a lusty appetite, and no shame in indulging it. Nigella, you have earned my abiding admiration and respect. Her recipes are user friendly, the food photography and styling in the book is page-lickin’ good, and most importantly of all – you want to eat them! Not every recipe in the book is a weeknight wonder, but there are no shortage of them in there.
“We are real people dammit, and sometimes our Broccoli wilts!”
The South Indian Vegetable curry is designed to use up the last of some less than perfect vegetables, and looks delish. Funny, when we live in a time where the mere suggestion of even possessing less than perfect produce is an affront to the foodie name! I dig that. We are real people dammit, and sometimes our Broccoli wilts! There are more elaborate choices as well for times when you have time to cook and potter in the kitchen. The Praised Chicken from Nigella’s own mum offered me and mine much succour in the cold season this year. So, Nigella, thankyou for your food literature. You inspire me, and more importantly, you help me feed me. Readers, if you too like to eat, and are not ashamed to show it, then I suggest you go out today, and buy yourself a copy of Kitchen. It is the kind of book that you will pass down in your family, pages splattered with sauce, for many years and many meals to come. You can find the recipe for Nigella’s recipe for Guiness Gingerbread in Kitchen, which I implore you to buy. As far as these roasted apples are concerned, simply lop a bunch of baby apples in half, and then sprinkle them with butter and brown sugar, about a tsp of each per apples, then roast in a 180C oven for about 30 minutes.