a nigella moment back in 2010

Several months ago I wrote about my addiction to food porn, and I am pleased to say it has reached new heights of depravity. Reason, with its sensible shoes and homely cardigans, encourages common sense in a time of the horrid darkness of election campaigns and ice road truckers dominating the viewing time. It is this reason that has departed from my life and I confess I am all agog of what to do.

I scour the papers daily, searching to determine how many of my food fantasies might come true, and to date, so many have. Meeting Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adria – done. Being in a lift with Jamie Oliver – done. Sitting in awe of David Chang in a Master Class – done and doner! Having dinner with Manu, Pete, Adrian, Miguel, Michel Roux – all done. What in Nigella’s name remains?

Nigella herself and can I say, as sick as it sounds, I am somewhat beside myself that Ms Lawson will grace our shores in 2011 as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

This news is bliss. I don’t know what it is about Nigella or any of these other celebrity culinary boffins that makes me so unreasonable. It can’t be because they are women, as in most cases, this encourages a sense of awe and confusion on my behalf. I think it is mostly that these personages, when hovering above a Miele hob and sweating food platitudes, that my inner core of desire and any of those other deadly sins, is indeed satiated in a way nothing else suffices.

I tried to have casual relationships with food programs and sadly, my attempt at casual satisfaction has failed miserably. Popping in and out of food shows has left me unsatisfied and feeling like a cheat…
It is not like these women and men of the culinary trade are overly special. Perhaps it starts something in my inner core – a spark of wanton desire or lust, greed or avarice. Or perhaps it is just nice clean viewing in a world dominated by smut and bad behaviour – in a world of television that promises much but delivers tits and ass!

There have been many viewing moments that have revved my inner core – and so many of those have come from meeting the peoples discussed above, in their finest personage. People who spend their lives creating. Mixing flavour, colour, texture and scent makes them special. Whisking, slicing, chopping and dicing with a sense of flourish and theatre that encourages such delight inside so many of us…
One wonders how we become obsessed with anything – food, sex, cars, chickens, meccano. Each of these obsessions in its own right is a valid and normal thing. The dictionary tells me about obsession: –noun 1. the domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc. 2. the idea, image, desire, feeling, etc., itself. 3. the state of being obsessed. 4. the act of obsessing.

How do you become dominated by these thoughts, feelings, or images and desires? Why does the television inform so many of our ideas about food? I think it is because it is doable, because we know how to source and create the food that we are shown, and that we lust after. It is because we reach a realisation that these folk are accessible and that they are just like us. That they weep with sharp onions, that they cut themselves and bleed. It provides us with an opportunity to realise that we can be like them in some small way.

We can make our way to the fridge at midnight to eat a spoon or two of chocolate ganache that we prepared earlier in the day, that we didn’t eat. Nigella can do it, which gives us permission to do it. Jamie has his mates around and knocks up some pucker tucker… and we can do that.

Granted we all cant be like Heston or Ferran or any of the alchemists who meld and divine new flavour from bog standard ingredients… but we can try.


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