The Simplicity of Nigella

I need to start my new book.

I promised myself I would start it at the weekend, but the prospect of a weekend idling about with my beloved did for that idea fairly swiftly, and no court in the land would convict me.

I have a draft of the book ready. I have the changes I want to make in my mind, and some of them on paper. I just need to start.

Probably tomorrow I will.

Not today.

While procrastinating over the last few days I have, in between scribbling down half formed thoughts, been watching the latest series by Nigella.

It is called ‘Simply Nigella.’


It is many, many things, is simply Nigella. It is not however, simple.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of Nigella, always have been. I am on my second copy of How to be a Domestic Goddess, which is the absolute bible of baking as far as  I’m concerned. Feast is another go to book for foolproof easy recipes. She is a fantastic cook.

I do however, find it increasingly hard to watch the television programmes. This is not because she is awful, far from it. I think she’s smart, and clever and I hate the way people keep asking her about her weight when she’s obviously brimming over with nine million other more interesting things to say.

I find it hard to watch though, because I get rather frustrated with the whole branding/marketing thing that goes on, and I find it detracts rather from the food.

For me, the point is always the food.

For them, it seems to be the lifestyle and the message.

Nigella’s life is far from simple, and anyone trying to emulate the simplicity of Nigella’s life or food, will find it an absolute ball ache, frankly.

Like minimalism, that much simplicity takes a shit load of money and a whole heap of time.

And a lot of tea lights and a whole bus load of skivvies.

It irks me that there is lots of arch emphasis on her ‘new’ life and her ‘new’ kitchen and her ‘new’ friends etc.

Why didn’t she just wear a t-shirt that said:

‘Look guys. Last year was really fucking difficult. I went through the wringer. I had my bad decision trousers on. Saatchi is a thing of the past. Let’s make a cake and get over it, eh?’

Then we could have got down to the cooking and eating bit and it would have been excellent.

The absolute nadir for me was the Christmas special which was sixty minutes of festive hell, shot mostly in July as far as I could see.

Why do we have to pretend that all the Christmas shows are actually set at Christmas? Why can’t we just have them in a normal kitchen, in August, with someone saying: ‘Look. Here’s what you do.’ End of?

I was so annoyed with all the glaring lifestyle choices sign posts, I really forgot to care about the food. Things like:

The weirdness of the lack of product placement (Yes. I understand it is the BBC etc, but still, it was odd). How does she go to that corridor pantry, in the dark (only tea lights and fairy lights allowed) and come out with 97 small jars of powder, all of which are exactly what she was looking for, even though none of them have labels on? Why isn’t she accidentally putting gravy browning in the cake mix for God’s sake, like normal people do?

Don’t tell me that never having a single label on anything is ‘simple’. That’s just insane. As is decanting every drop of liquid into some sort of other container, bowl, bottle or jug because it looks pretty. The dish washer must be on overdrive in that house.

Don’t even get me started on how much recycling is required.

By the end of the series, even things like the fact that in nearly every recipe she doesn’t give you quantities or baking times or oven temperatures so that you have to buy the book, except for the Christmas episode when you will need them to help you get over your Christmas crisis and it’s cutting it a bit fine to buy the book, was driving me loopy.

The perfect Polaroids of the holiday in Thailand. Really? No blurry thumb prints? No fuzzy, indistinguishable lumpy photos taken in the dark?

I know, I know, it’s all perfectly curated for the telly, but it is supposed to be ‘real’. Instead it becomes a nonsense, and I just imagine some poor bugger in a studio with a sand tray and some pineapple on a plate trying to make it look like Asia instead of Cricklewood.

The tool box full of liquorice products? Who the hell keeps a tool box of liquorice in their house? Who?

The carefully manufactured dappiness, rough edges and ‘real’ cooking rather than cheffing, even though in the outtakes you could see that they had been rehearsed to death to look that natural.

The whole harking back to a kind of swinging Sixties vibe of cool London and carefree living. It’s not that I expect her to be cooking down a coal mine with a picture of George Osborne skewered to the wall, but you know? It was all a bit too relentlessly perfect when it was meant to be simple and imperfect.

The pandering to all the buzzword ingredients of the year: coconut everything (I would put £50 on at William Hill that within ten years we will all have coconut intolerance to go with our peanut allergies), almond milk, goji berries whatever, whatever.

The bloody obsession with avocados. I mean, I like an avocado as much as the next person but Jesus Christ on a bike, they have been around for bloody years. Please do not act like you have found the Holy Grail because you put some ripe avocado on a bit of rye bread.

Although, that is simple, I guess.

Am I just jealous of her pink and green kitchen?

Hell, yeah.

Am I just jealous of her London townhouse?

Of course.

Have I forgiven her for putting liquorice powder in what was otherwise a perfectly splendid chocolate cake?

Hell, no.




One response to “The Simplicity of Nigella

  1. Not just me then?

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