Nigella Lawson, long known for her luminous beauty and for making British food sexy, lit up a capacity crowd at a recent event hosted by Roland Passat of Left Bank restaurant and Book Passage.
The event was held in celebration of her most recent book, Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food, an ode to the simple pleasures in life. The book is a most satisfying selection of her most trusted and delicious recipes served directly to the reader with Nigella’s trademark lusciously written introductions.
Indeed, Nigella’s career began in publishing and journalism but soon evolved into a culinary career that has rewritten America’s conception of British food. Once thought rather stodgy and bland, Nigella’s takes on the classics make it modern and flavorful while still maintaining its simplicity and unfussy nature.
After the outstanding success of her first book How to Eat, Nigella began hosting a cooking series for the BBC called Nigella Bites. Its shooting star success translated into an introduction to American audiences via the standout ABC show The Taste, and her Food Network Show Nigella Feasts, as well as morning and late-night national television appearances. Now, with over nine bestselling cookbooks, including her classic How to be a Domestic Goddess — which forever changed the world’s view of domesticity — she has firmly established herself in the ever-orbiting food star constellation.
With her latest cookbook, Nigella again deepens her commitment to simple, unfussy, and ultimately satisfying dishes.
“There are no guilty food pleasures,” Nigella affirms, “you should simply enjoy the food you like to eat.”
Each chapter is devoted the rhythms of cooking and eating, to late night delights, to ideas for feeding a crowd, or needing to impress, or just needing to get dinner on the table as calmly and quickly as possible.
“I included the chapter in the book called ‘Bowlfood’,” she explains, “because it is one of my favorite ways to eat. It is so deeply satisfying. And it is perfect for those times when even chewing is just too much.”
The book is being called her most health conscious and, though she does say that this book is different in that she had to “cook herself strong,” she also makes clear that in no way is it a health book or that she is a fan of the “Clean-Eating Brigade.”
However, Nigella does concede that “how we cook and indeed how we eat does give us — as much as anything can — mastery over ourselves, and the act of cooking for yourself is in itself a supremely positive act, an act of kindness.”
Health conscious or not, the book is obviously devoted to healing, being the first cookbook she has published since the end of her marriage in 2013 to Art Dealer Charles Saatchi. The end of her near decade of marriage brought plenty of media mayhem and caused the star to turn inwards to restore and renew both her public and private life. Food was central to that healing process.
“If cooking isn’t hinged on necessity, it loses its context and purpose. I cook to give pleasure to myself and others, but first it’s about sustaining life, and only then about forging a life,” Nigella writes.
Simply Nigella beautifully expresses her transformational forging of that new life, of healing, of renewing strength, and resurrecting a life for herself as only she can, through the sweet solace of the kitchen.