Hello YouTube, My Old Friend: Nigella Lawson

2 Dec

Hello YouTube, My Old Friend is a feature I want to do periodically – I find the most insane, awesome stuff on YouTube all the time and want to spread the joy. Basically, I’ll discuss something wonderful I’ve found on YouTube and give you a taste of why I love it, in the hopes that you might join me in my fangirlness!

Falling into the category of comfort is Nigella Lawson, beautiful, zaftig, British, earthy cookbook author and writer extraordinaire. I first stumbled across her premiere cookbook, How to Eat, nearly ten years ago. I was  a young college student at the time and one of my favorite, cheap pastimes was to wander the local bookstore (this is still true, actually). How to Eat is a primer on why food is good, which foods she likes best for particular situations, how mood influences what we want to eat, and is bursting full with her opinions, witticisms, and recipes. I flove it. Shortly after that cookbook was published, she started her own cooking show on BBC. What’s special about Nigella is that, while she is a great writer, she is also amazingly charming and comfortable in front of the camera. She has since had several other cooking specials and series, including one on America’s Food Network. You can peruse YouTube for hours watching the myriad clips from her various shows and specials. I’ve added some samples to this post – watch and rejoice! Then go eat something.

Nigella lives and works in London, and her shows frequently revolve around her exploits around town. She films in her flat, and any particular show might have the viewer follow her around to various foodie destinations and markets around London. She’s so inescapably and lovably British. Not only does the show satisfy my foodie cravings, but I also get to indulge in a bit of armchair travel.

Another thing I love? Nigella is not stick thin (I’m talking to you, Giada). Girlfriend obviously likes to eat. And she takes visceral, bone-deep pleasure in eating, cooking, and food in general. She’s absolutely gorgeous and never talks herself down, other than in that joking, self-deprecating way that all normal people do (if you don’t, you take yourself too seriously). The almost exotic visual of seeing a beautiful and elegant woman who also loves to chow is always lovely to see. Is this a European thing? I’m trying to think of any of the Food Network female stars that are both full-figured and sensual, and not a one comes to mind. Enlighten me, though, if you know of one.

Above all, Nigella loves food. She chats with the viewer in this easy, light way that makes you feel like you’re hanging out in the kitchen with your girlfriends. Because she’s a writer, she uses incredibly descriptive words that are evocative of how food makes you feel: molten chocolate is “meltingly velvet” and salmon is a “coral slab”. Each meal she makes has a story, a mood, and a reason behind it, which is perhaps why I connect to her so well. I seem to make most of my decisions based on mood – I may be letting emotion and feelings guide me too much, but there it is.

If you’ve not yet explored Nigella’s oeuvre and are interested after looking at these videos, these are my favorites:

  • How to Eat – the classic. No pictures (at least not in my old edition), just lots of wonderful writing and countless recipes. The perfect bedtime reading when Life Is Hard.
  • How to Be a Domestic Goddess – this is a baking cookbook, for which Nigella won a British Book Award. Lots of beautiful, glossy photos of pure decadence. This is guaranteed to make you gain weight.
  • Feast – Focusing on the use of food in celebrations, this cookbook offers recipes and menus tailored to different festivals and holidays around the world. It is endlessly fascinating and makes you want to eat your way around the world.

2 Responses to “Hello YouTube, My Old Friend: Nigella Lawson”

  1. Rebecca December 14, 2011 at 10:16 pm #

    There’s something about the way that Nigella talks that reminds me of Shaida. I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe this way she just seems to enjoy the story she’s telling. Maybe it’s the loving ways she talks about food.

    I’d never heard of her before, but, again, I’ll be looking for How to Eat at my bookstore. Amanda, I can tell you’re going to be great for my TBR pile. 🙂

    • Amanda December 15, 2011 at 8:10 am #

      Oh, lovely Shaida. I miss her stories.

      And I have read How to Eat before bed so many times, I can’t count. Nigella is just soooo soothing.

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