By Jessica Allen - Monday, February 18, 2013 - 0 Comments
The cookbook star on food, travel and the virtues of vermouth
By Jessica Allen - Monday, February 18, 2013 at 2:25 PM - 0 Comments
Bestselling author and TV personality Nigella Lawson visited the new Chatelaine test kitchen powered by GE this morning to talk about her new book, Nigellissima, a collection of 126 Italian-inspired recipes. We had a chance to speak with Lawson about food writing, the pressures of a non-Italian tackling Italian recipes and the virtues of vermouth.
A: I will, and do you know what I love most of all? Seeing a really old, used, beloved copy. It always warms my heart.
Q: This book is actually the way I came at the discourse of food writing 16 years ago, and via you I was introduced to other food writers, namely Elizabeth David and Anne del Conte and so on. So I’m curious to know how you arrived to the subject.
A: Completely by mistake. It was a long time ago so I was relatively young and I always thought that I wanted to write a novel. And then one day my late husband John said to me, ‘You think everyone is as confident in their attitudes towards food as you are–you should write about it.’ This [How To Eat] isn’t really a recipe book–there are lots of recipes in it–but it’s a different sort of book. It’s about talking about food and why it matters. So I spoke to my agent and asked what he thought and he said let’s do it. And I said, ‘I don’t really know if I want to do a food book.’ And he said, ‘Before you write a great symphony just do a few chords. This will be it.’ Of course I wrote this book and realized I didn’t want to be a novelist. I’m not a novelist. I felt I found my voice through food. So it was just an accident. At the time I was journalist–not even a food journalist; I’d write about anything–but you see the thing is food is not to be left to the experts because we all eat. We eat everyday and food is such an important part of our lives, not just in terms of giving us all sustenance but emotionally it explains so much about us. So I wanted to write about food in its context–sometimes historically and sometimes I suppose sociological, and sometimes just purely personal. So for me it’s just the biggest subject in the world and I love every aspect of it.
By Jessica Allen - Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 2:07 PM - 0 Comments
Nigella Lawson will be in Toronto on Monday to promote her new cookbook, Nigellissima, in the Chatelaine test kitchen, just three floors down from the offices of Maclean’s.
I, for one, am excited. For years her first book, How to Eat (1998), sat on my bedside table. To be honest, I rarely cooked recipes from it–heck, I rarely cooked at all–but it was so beautifully written that I couldn’t put it down. And she lead me to other food writers, including Elizabeth David and Anna del Conte. Food writing, Lawson taught me, was a genre all unto its own.
Nigellisima, her 10th book, has 120 Italian-inspired recipes and are written with Lawson’s usual flare, which includes descriptors that are singularly hers in style: Radicchio is “beautifully bitter;” Marsala-soaked porcini mushrooms have “husky depth;” and her cinnamon almond cake is “meltingly damp and fragrantly redolent of marzipan.”
Bu why Italy, and why now? In fact, the germ for her latest book may predate her other literary offerings. Lawson, who started as a journalist (by 26, she was the deputy literary editor of the The Sunday Times), spent a year working in Florence during her gap year at university. Not only did she work as a chambermaid during her sojourn, but she also learned how to cook–and eat like a Florentine, and a life-long love affair with all things Italian was born.
When I speak with Lawson on Monday about her new book I’ll ask when to adhere to and break with Italian culinary traditions and find out how she manages–after all her books, TV shows, awards, apps and gastronomic entrepreneurial forays–to stay genuinely enthusiastic about food.