I’m sorry, but I need to get something off my chest. It’s been bothering me for a while. So, let’s just put it out there and shout it loud and proud: I love Nigella Lawson!
Now, there are bound to be some of you out there currently scratching your heads and going, “Ay, ee gong see-mee?”, while others will be asking in more fluent Hokkien, “Is that a cupcake?”
To which I say, better than a cupcake. Way better.
Nigella Lawson is a British food writer who is best known for her TV cooking programmes. But that’s just like saying the sun is a round, very hot and bright ball. Technically correct, but completely underwhelming in conveying the full majesty of this woman.
Woman? What woman? She’s no mere woman. She’s a Rubenesque, dark-haired, ever cheerful voluptuous goddess who, as far as I’m concerned, could cook dirt in her kitchen and I’d still adore her.
I have friends who can’t stand her. These are the same people who also can’t stand Oprah. My 2012 new year’s resolution is to seriously reassess my friendship with each and every single one of them.
Thankfully, in the little flat that I share with Saffy and Amanda, Nigella can do no wrong.
Because this woman enjoys her food. You won’t ever find her using margarine in her cooking. And she’ll never utter the word ‘diet’ unless it’s in a derogatory way. Which she does so charmingly.
The other night, as I was padding out past Amanda’s room on my way from the bathroom back to my bedroom, I saw her and Saffy seated around her desk in front of her laptop.
“What are you watching?” I asked, poised at the door.
Saffy lifted her face from the soft warm glow of the screen. “Did you know,” she began, her bosom swelling beneath her nightgown, “did you know that Nigella has a new TV series out? Why do we not know about this?”
“Really?” I stepped smartly to their side and bent down.
“It’s all on YouTube,” Saffy added.
And there she was, in all her radiant Nigella-comeliness, dressed in a red figure-hugging sweater that accentuated every soft womanly curve. Her precise clipped English accent floated over the blitzing whirr of her food processor.
“What’s she cooking?” I asked.
“Asian braised beef shin with spicy salad!” Amanda murmured. “It looks amazing and she’s serving it with noodles.”
A few minutes later, as Nigella began serving the dish to her guests, Saffy said, her chest still going up and down, “Oh my God, whoare those two guys? They are so cute!”
Amanda and I looked up and turned to her. It was as if someone in church just told you he’d farted.
“They’re, like, 18, Saffy!” Amanda said, finally.
“Really, who died and made you the chief inspector of the moral police?” Saffy said stiffly.
“Let’s watch the next one,” I said, my attention veering back towards Nigella like a stray asteroid that’s just wandered into the gravitational field of black hole.
Amanda clicked on the next YouTube link.
“Oooh, a lemon polenta cake! Do we like polenta?” Saffy wondered.
“Not really, but I’m sure it’s going to be sensational.”
It was 3am before we finally tore ourselves away from the laptop and went to bed. “I love that woman!” Amanda said by way of goodnights. “I wish she was my mother!”
The next day, Saffy decided that she too wanted to make the braised beef shin. She spent an hour in Cold Storage buying the ingredients, another half an hour waiting at the taxi stand outside Orchard Towers (during which time three fat Australian men came up to her and asked her “How much for an hour, love?”), and the next three hours in our kitchen screaming.
She called Amanda in the middle of Amanda’s client meeting and shouted, “It’s not working! I think I must have missed a vital ingredient because the beef seems to have dried out even though I put foil over it and stuck it back into the oven like Nigella said but it’s probably because our stupid oven doesn’t work properly and the worst thing is I was cutting the chilli for the spicy salad and then I rubbed my eyes and now I’m in absolute agony and I’ve gone blind! Hello?”
Later that night, after we’d tipped Saffy’s efforts into the bin and gone out for nasi padang down at our local hawker centre, Amanda said sometimes it felt like she was living in an episode of ‘The Osbournes’. Having just seen Saffy’s version of Asian braised beef shin, I said it was more like an episode of ‘True Blood’. Saffy never looked up from her beef rendang.