Nigella Law­son

But she’s one free spirit. Nigella Law­son, queen of im­prov in the kitchen — cam­eras or no cam­eras — finds “sa­cred joy” in cook­ing for oth­ers, she tells hil­lary kang

Prestige (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

Nigella Law­son we know is a volup­tuous, sul­try whiz in the kitchen, re­in­forced by one of her cook­ery books, How to Be a Do­mes­tic God­dess. But if there is some­thing the 58-year-old Bri­ton would like the world to know, it’s that she is most def­i­nitely not cut out for the role.

In the monony­mous star’s kitchen, usu­ally not the paragon of or­der­li­ness it is made out to be, Law­son flits be­tween recipes and in­gre­di­ents as her mood takes her and, hard as it is to be­lieve, she’s “not a par­tic­u­larly groomed per­son” when the cam­eras aren’t rolling. But what the cam­eras do get right is Law­son’s homely, nur­tur­ing na­ture — and her in­nate de­sire to feed any­one she en­coun­ters.

“My friends al­ways tease me that even some­one com­ing to mend the boiler never leaves with­out some­thing to eat!” Law­son laughs. “Nour­ish­ing peo­ple is just an es­sen­tial part of who I am.”

Be­yond her flir­ta­tious TV per­sona, Law­son main­tains a no­to­ri­ously pri­vate life. Her 1.3 mil­lion fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram would be hard pressed to even con­sider that the ac­count be­longs to one of Bri­tain’s most recog­nis­able ex­ports out­side of the royal fam­ily. Aside from de­lec­ta­ble con­fec­tions and am­brosial plat­ters in­ter-spliced with vi­gnettes from Law­son’s sup­posed hum­drum life, there are rarely, if ever, any im­ages of her­self.

“I’m just some­one who loves food, so that’s the fo­cus of my In­sta­gram ac­count,” she says. “What I re­ally want to share is my joy of cook­ing, and I would like to think ev­ery­thing I do re­flects that.”

In an era of care­fully man­i­cured plates and art­fully posed im­ages, Law­son rev­els in the breezy, al­most-im­promptu aes­thetic of her food shots, giv­ing view­ers the im­pres­sion she’s just plated a 3-course lunch for Mon­day. Imagine: A frame that’s filled with a hodge­podge of in­gre­di­ents — roasted cauliflower, for which Law­son has no recipe, still on the tray; “rem­nants” of red salsa in a smeared bowl; and a salad com­pris­ing greens tossed to­gether at ran­dom. It is, by Law­son’s own ad­mis­sion, “a lunch of odds and ends”. But it is sim­ply a re­flec­tion of her per­son­al­ity.

Make no mis­take, her food still looks — and tastes — di­vine. But there is a streak of near­rebel­lious free-spirit­ed­ness that runs through ev­ery­thing she pro­duces. Take her cook­books for ex­am­ple. Sev­eral of them es­chew tra­di­tional chap­ters, me­an­der­ing through dif­fer­ent recipes with no dis­cernible or­gan­i­sa­tion (un­sur­pris­ingly, desserts, Law­son’s forte, are awarded their own sec­tion). “The messi­ness of hav­ing no chap­ters, no breaks in the run of recipes, felt so much more like the way I ac­tu­ally cook and live,” writes Law­son in her lat­est book, At My Ta­ble.

Her un­ortho­dox ap­proach to cook­ing may seem per­plex­ing, but Law­son stresses she is not a “pro­fes­sional” chef, but a home cook. It is not a mod­est de­mur — on the con­trary, the man­tle of home cook is one she dons with pride.

“To me, it makes no sense to say there is only one way to cook,” she says. “For cook­ing to be au­then­tic, it has to re­flect our own palates and per­son­al­i­ties.”

Law­son, who was never pro­fes­sion­ally trained, goes on, “Peo­ple re­turn to restau­rants be­cause they want a cer­tain dish that’s made the same way ev­ery time, but when we cook at home, we can cook our dishes in dif­fer­ent ways. That gives me end­less plea­sure, and a feel­ing of creativity. Above all, this is what I want to share with my read­ers.”

Law­son is tire­less about spread­ing her craft through her inim­itable brand of home­li­ness. Her busy calendar sees her re­turn­ing to West­ern Aus­tralia this Novem­ber to take part in the 2018 Mar­garet River Gourmet Es­cape.

Home to fresh seafood (in­clud­ing the “sweet­est-fleshed crab and rock lob­ster” she has ever had), and redo­lent wines Law­son gladly trav­els more than 14,000km for, the Mar­garet River Gourmet Es­cape brings to­gether a wealth of like­minded epi­cure­ans against a stun­ning back­drop of azure wa­ters and surf breaks.

And as much as she en­joys ex­er­cis­ing her culi­nary chops, the act of cook­ing as she puts it is merely the means to an even greater end. “I love cook­ing for my­self, but shar­ing food is truly a sa­cred joy,” she con­fesses.

“There are won­der­ful eat­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties at the Mar­garet River Gourmet Es­cape, and I cer­tainly rel­ish them, but it is the sense of com­rade­ship that makes the event spe­cial. Food is noth­ing with­out the peo­ple it helps you con­nect with.”

“Food is noth­ing with­out the peo­ple it helps you con­nect with”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.