Book Christmas Advent Calendar Day 4: The Taste, and cookbook pleasures
So for today's advent calendar book treat, I want to talk about Nigella Lawson and her cookbooks. Nigella is currently appearing on The Taste on ABC TV, the 3rd season premiering tonight. Nigella has been one of my cooking heroes since I lived in England in 2000. She was just starting her cookbook career at that time, and appearing on her tv cook shows. The first cookbook I bought by her was Nigella Bites, her third cookbook. In that cookbook I made several recipes, the Aromatic Lamb Shank Stew being one of our favourites from this book. I went on to buy almost every book she has put out. For me, her best books are How To Eat (several recipes in this book are regular features in our kitchen), Feast (food that celebrates, so many good recipes in this book), and my favourite, Nigella Kitchen. In this book is our favourite crisp chicken cutlets (which I call parmesan chicken) recipe that the kids adore, buttermilk scones which even the kids like (they are picky about scones), Ed's Mother's Meatloaf which is spectacular with the hardboiled eggs in the middle. In How to Eat is the best meatball recipe for kids, and chocolate lava cakes (to name a few). Easter Egg Nest cake which I have featured on this blog is her recipe. She is a divine cook.
One of the things I love about her is her openness about how she loves food, and loves to eat it. She shares in making food for friends, family, and all those late nights when all the losses she has had in her life are too much, she consoles herself by looking through her cookbooks or online shopping for them. When I read one of her cookbooks, I feel like she is in the kitchen talking to me, friend to friend. I don't envy her last two years and the personal journey through the dark side she has made, and I am so happy she has made it through and is on The Taste again this year. She is the embodiment of women who love to cook for their families, and who know that food prepared with love is the best kind of food there is.
What does this have to do with Christmas, you say? Two things. One, food and Christmas - well that is what Christmas is about too, isn't it? Good food, as well as family and friends, love and the new year. two - well.....there's a book of Nigella's that I don't have, that I really really want. Nigella Christmas. I put it on a couple of wishlists but the hint didn't materialize, and now her book is rarely available here now. So this might be a dream for a few years to come. One day, I will find it. Uh-oh. I just discovered that I blogged about this book back in 2008!!
The thing about Nigella and food is, that, well she is sensual when she works with it. She likes the feel of food, how it tastes, the textures, the colour, how is pleases every sense. I love that about her, as this is how I feel about food too. It can be a whole sensory experience to eat a meal, if it's done right. Just how it looks on the plate can be inviting (or not). She is one of my pleasures in life, and her cookbooks are like a trail through my own history too now. This year I worked from that cookbook, this is the year I fell in love with her cooking, this is the year I made so many recipes from this particular book. I've learned to let myself savor the act of cooking more, and the pleasures of making food and understand a little how magical it all is, because of her writing about food and loving to eat chocolate cake. She's like my dream best friend, a little shy, enthusiastic about food, and loves chocolate.
I do have to say though that her choice tonight of deep-fried macaroni and cheese as her team's taste - I knew right away what was going to happen, and I was saying to the tv, no, no no! Not deep fried macaroni and cheese!!! that's not childhood in a taste! I was right, sadly. Let's hope I have better luck finding Nigella Christmas than she does in picking her teams (she lost badly the previous two years). Or, I can hope she has another cookbook in the works....
By the way, her Quadruple Chocolate Loaf cake is the best. Divine. Also her Everday Brownies, featured at my 7 year blogversary in Oct. These brownies are a family classic now. For chocoholics, this is as good as her chocolate cloud cake and the chocolate lava cakes recipe. A girl can never really have too much chocolate, can she?