Personally, I don’t think you can officially become a national treasure until you reach a certain advanced age, but let’s just say that Nigella Lawson is definitely on the waiting list. When I saw that the inestimable Topping & Company were hosting the domestic goddess herself for an interview about her new book, Simply Nigella, as part of the Great Bath Feast, I knew I just had to go along. Along with Jamie Oliver, it was Nigella that taught me to cook – so I couldn’t resist the chance to see her in person.
The event itself was hosted by the Forum, which is one of my favourite venues in Bath – first opened as a cinema in 1934, it’s a beautiful Art Deco space that can hold several hundred people, and on this particular occasion it was packed to the rafters. The evening kicked off with an interview with Nigella about her journey from journalist to bestselling cookery book author, baking guru and foodie crush. One of the best things to hear about was her robustly healthy attitude to food and all the usual psychological baggage that we carry around with us – I particularly liked the way she spoke about comfort food, and how so often it actually turns into ‘discomfort food’ – something that makes us feel sick and guilty. Nigella’s approach to comfort food is that even if it’s just a bowl of pasta heaped with cheese, it should be savoured slowly and enjoyed, so that it really can bring us comfort. In fact, a whole chapter in her new book, Simply Nigella, is devoted to what she calls ‘bowl food’ – recipes that can be heaped up in a bowl and eaten with a fork or a spoon whilst curled up on the sofa. How good does that sound?
Of course, afterwards I couldn’t resist buying the book itself (normal ticket purchasers for Topping & Co events usually get the book in question as part of the ticket price – it’s a great deal) and as always, with me and Nigella, it was love at first sight. This book is clean and gorgeously inviting, a feast of tempting pictures and pretty pastel colours (as someone who adores a pin-sharp colour combination, the raspberry-pink hard cover and pale mint end-papers are swoon-worthy), and the writing is classic Nigella – warm, funny, instantly endearing. So far my favourite recipe is the Drunken Noodles from the Bowl Food chapter, but I’m also in love with the Breathe chapter, a love letter to the TLC that goes into slow-cooking.
I’ve got half a shelf devoted to the domestic goddess and each book is as good as the last. I don’t know how she keeps doing it, but she does! Definitely put Simply Nigella at the top of your Christmas list – or just go out and treat yourself to it now. I promise not to tell Santa…
Images Copyright Sal Godfrey / Sal’s Kitchen