Nigella: Simply divine
Nigella Lawson knows that sometimes the best meals are the ones that don’t take much time, writes SHANNON MOLLOY
CELEBRITY chef Nigella Lawson could be just about anywhere in the world, but grate a lemon zest and she’s instantly transported back to Italy.
It was there that Lawson (pictured) ventured in her gap year after school, knowing no one but wanting to experience Florence. To this day, that distinct citrus scent makes her mind fondly wander back to Tuscany’s historic capital.
“I immediately feel uplifted by the smell of lemon,” Lawson says. “I remember living there [Italy], seeing the lemon trees, and it’s an instant hit of joy.
“It’s the same kind of thing with roast chicken – that smell reminds me of my mother’s kitchen when I was a girl, and I get great comfort from that. Actually, she used to squeeze a lemon and put it inside the chicken, so maybe that’s why those two are so special.”
Lawson describes smell as an “intense transmission of emotion”. Words aren’t necessary – a memory comes flooding back and you’re left to “drink up what’s there”, she says.
“Not only do I take pleasure in it, but it’s a way of passing on the seed of happiness to my children,” Lawson says.
“I think that’s an important part of them cooking, too.”
It hasn’t been the easiest time of late for the British culinary queen, who has built an empire on TV shows including her latest, Simply
Nigella, along with books and other business ventures.
In June 2013, she endured the very public breakdown of her marriage, a bitter court case involving two former assistants charged with fraud and a series of shocking revelations in the UK press. After difficult or stressful days, Lawson says she gets great comfort from being in the kitchen and undertaking process-driven tasks.
“I find stirring or chopping and standing at the stove makes me feel quite calm,” she says.
“Food has this wonderful ability to connect me with the world in a way that makes me feel grounded. Most of the time … doing something that’s purely manual labour is a way of grabbing a few moments out of that non-stop world.
“Even if something takes just 10 minutes to cook, that’s 10 minutes when you’re away from all the non-stoppery of normal life. That’s what it feels like for me. I think that’s why I strive for things to be simple.”