Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Will the Real Domestic Goddess Please Stand Up?

Before the ravishing Nigella got dental work, a stylist and started seducing us all with her particular brand of gastroporn on T.V involving deep fried bounty bars and gammon cooked in cherry coca cola, she wrote, I think, the most brilliant encyclopedic book about food and how to cook (and eat) it.

I am going to own up right here to my secret guilty pleasure - I have two copies of this book, one lives on the kitchen dresser and the other on (or very near) my bedside table...

I love this book, I probably know it off by heart such is the extent of my devotion. I like her and I like all her books, I probably just like the one she did before the publishers and T.V producers pounced a bit more....but as Nigella says:
"Enjoying food, enjoying eating, isn't about graduating with honours from the Good Taste university. I'm not interested in pleasing food snobs or purists."
Who am I to argue?

There are those who will argue that the original Domestic Goddess was writing serious books about food and cooking long before Nigella was even a twinkle in her father's eye (Did Nigel Lawson ever have a twinkle in his eye, it's difficult to imagine....) I digress.....Elizabeth David published her first book, Mediterranean Food, in 1950....when olive oil was something you bought at Boots the chemist and Britain was in a post war slump. Can you imagine? Recipes for octopus & bouillabaise when the jaded workers of post-war Britain were coming home to a stew of vegetables covered in white sauce (made with margarine). I think a lot of her appeal was that she was writing of exotic places and exotic flavours...her lifestyle in France, Italy, Egypt and the Greek Islands a whole world away from grey provincial England where bananas were a rarity.
At that time the things she was writing about were totally foreign to the average cook but that didn't hold her back....
I have read somewhere that this was the beginning of the whole 'food pornography' industry - maybe she and Nigella have more in common than it first appears..........s


  1. Susie, I always suspected, and now I have proof that you are indeed a kindred spirit. I'm going to take a photo of my copy of this book and email it to you. It's dog-eared, some pages are glued together and then torn apart after I've spilt something on them, there are notes in the side bar, post-it's saying things like "MAKE THIS AGAIN!!".

    I think this sat on my bedside table for the first two years I owned it. How sensible of you to have two copies! I'm quite proud that, like you, I loved Nigella before she was "Nigella". In the same way that I'm the proud owner of a very plain covered "Briget Jones' Diary" (the publishers weren't too optimistic obviously) before it took off.

    Before I read "How to Eat", I was limited to (like many Aussie girls) the Women's Weekly cookbooks. You could have guessed that couldn't you? They still had recipes for tuna mornay and asparagus pin wheel sandwiches in them.

    I could go on and on, but suffice to say that once I cooked the Greek Lamb stew, my life changed...for the better. Meredy xo.
    p.s. also the Fancy Cake made in a brioche tin. Saved my bacon on many occasions.

  2. Hi Susie
    Well I need Nigella's dentist and stylist.. that's for sure!!. and gastroporn ha ha Iove that term!! You know I'm not really familiar with Elizabeth David.. so I will have to check it out... anything mediterranean is definitely great with me!!

    You know as Meredith puts it... Aussie girls may have had some boring resources in the past... my poor mum did experiment and created her aussie versions of italian, mexican, chinese etc.. the sort of thing we cringe at now.. but in her day,.. it was out there...

    Most of my childhood friends were of some mediterranean background.. i think i schemed it this way so i could eat at their homes.. hahaha... but then even as an adult I always found the same to be true!!,. One of my very good friends is Italian.. she often tells me I am 'a wog in a past life'. Well some may take offence at that term but coming from a 1st generation aussie.. i think she can get away with it..

    your post has just reminded me that somewhere I have a book she gave me called 'Wog Food'.. I'll have to go find it now... thanks for reminding me!! xx Julie

  3. Oh woman after my own heart, I love Nigella and Elizabeth David. I am convinced that Elizabeth David is the Godmother of modern English cusine.

  4. Hi Suzie, Well I haven't read either one,
    guess I should. Just went to a Diet
    nutrition center. Not working, I need a prision.
    Just Made Walnut Scones and they were great, I will get them over to my friends office for the staff.I have stopped smoking.Started smoking in 1958 THAT'S OVER 40 YEARS
    Oct.2008 stopped Lappsed into cigs for 1 month Christmas.-Stopped again Jan 2009 Again Christmas 2009 lappesed into 3 packs only.
    Jan. started Chantix again. 2010 till now..smoke free. Please God all I do is eat a pretzel or candy. It's the hardest thing
    to do .I hope they take them off the market.

  5. Dear Susie,
    Well, I love Nigella as well. I have all of her books, and many of the pages are stuck together at favourite recipes.
    I'm also a great Elizabeth David fan. Did you see the play that they did about her life, on T.V. last year ? It really gave you an insight into her colourful past !!
    I also have to give a cheer for Delia, whose cookery books are on my bookshelf, the likes of which get taken down and perused many a weekend, especially for dinner parties and Christmas.
    So, YES, I love Nigella.... although, I think that she slightly overdid the licking of the lips and the orgasmic sighs in her last series !!!! haha. XXXX

  6. This is my favourite Nigella book too - less sugary-showy than some of the others (though I do like them all) and full of sprightly banter and wisdom.

  7. Hi Susie yes I think that this is my favourite Nigella book and also love Elizabeth David - the forerunner to bringing all things exotic/mediterranean to the English palette....(what work has Nigella had done exactly on her teeth btw?!)... And yes, has been quite hot and humid here too but not as bad as Sydney I believe. Great weekend to you... S xx

  8. i am apparently going to have to RUN out
    and get a copy of that book!

  9. I feel this way about Claudia Roden. Her Orange & Almond cake with Bittersweet Orange Sauce is still my most requested dish. We are a Nigella-free zone here, as believe it or not MOTH can't stand her. Go figure.
    Millie ^_^

  10. hi Millie,
    Just came over from Jackie's blog. I used to love Nigella. As a matter of fact I named my sweet cat Nigella after her. Recently I saw her on the Today show where she proudly said she didn't like the French. I thought it was rather weird and inappropriate to say.
    It just sort of put me off.
    I guess you can guess what nationality I am??? lol
    ok sorry for the rant. just had to let it out!