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Nigella Lawson (born 6 January 1960) is the lucious-lipped presenter of cookery programmes on British television where she administers bowls of sexual innuendo on the end of a turkey baster. Licking her fingers, caressing a ladle and leaning over to dangle her generous breasts close to a work surface, Nigella has sexualised cooking in a way to make Mrs Beeton blush. It may be 'food porn' but Nigella keeps her clothes on.
Nigella is the daughter of fat-thin British Conservative Party politician Nigel Lawson. He gave her that name because he wanted his daughter to reflect his greater glory. Lawson later became Chancellor of the Exchequer in the governments of Margaret Thatcher until he resigned to lose weight. Today Nigel (natch Lord Lawson) weighs less than one of his daughter's regular cooking ingredients and is too scared to pop round for dinner in case he ends up in the soup.
At first glance Nigella looks an unlikely cookery writer. Before swopping black ink for brown gravy, Nigella earned her biscuits as a general feature writer with very good connections. Her dark-eyed looks gave her regular TV exposure as a 'glam hackette' and she was soon married to a fellow journalist John Diamond. Yet this was all becoming a bit of a bore for Nigella, she wanted to expand her talents. Then she discovered the fusty world of agas and egg timers.
The dried fruit for you
The world of cookery television in Britain had moved on since the days of dear old mad bat Fanny Cradock. Cradock was stilted, unyeilding and authoritarian. Some say brittle. Fanny over whipped her egg whites and she piped out green potatoes for garnish. Past her prime, Cradock did not need moist, luscious ingredients. Every thing was "dyhydrated" and "just add water". And if it wasn't, she made you place it in the dehydrator, so you could rehydrate later for the same recipe.
And then there was Graham Kerr who trotted around Ascot while par boiling thing like Rocky Mountain Oysters. He was called the 'Galloping Gourmet' and would race around a kitchen in a skin-tight leotard before changing for dinner. The old lech would then invite a member of the audience (always a woman) to come up and 'taste his delicacies'.
Later on British TV had mumsy (but not MILF) Delia Smith with her promotion of wholesome, healthy food and the eccentric - usually three sheets to the wind - Keith Floyd. A choice between the prissy and the pissed. Other television cooks would try a mix of these styles but it was safe programming, unlikely to upset children or small dogs. This wouldn't be Nigella's world. She was determined to climb up the food show programme chain and had the idea that the typical British utilitarian approach to cuisine was outmoded.
What a good cooking show needed was a good pot roast, infused with sex, and Nigella had that in simmering pans.
1998-2002: Lusting After Chicken
Nigella transformed the kitchen into a bedroom with cooking utensils. When she chopped her vegetables on a board, selected the spices to mix in and stroked the long spoon to administer the right amounts, this was raw sex. When Nigella talked about 'Laying out a bed of French roasted vegetables' or speak of 'presenting a dripping rack of Mongolian seasoned lamb' fell from her red, wet mouth and widening mouth, it was as if she was on a date with some handsome stud. For men at least, you expected Nigella to say something like 'now keep stirring until I slip away and put on something more enticing'. And then Nigella would be back, eyes flashing brightly letting the courgettes fry just that little bit longer.
The sight of Nigella stuffing her hand up a chicken and covering it in sauce boosted the male audience for cookery shows from just the homosexual community and single dads to many men wishing they could wash Nigella's dishes. Even though she was married soon and with children, Nigella's wink-wink innuendo in the kitchen, licking her fingers slowly and rolling out phallic-shaped dough drove her fans mad. For the first time in a generation, women had problems accessing the cookery section in bookshops as rows of men flicked through Nigella's books to leer at her. Nigella was sex and food and when she whispered to camera And now I am going to give you some of my cooking tips.., was it in your imagination that you believed she was subtextually talking about her nipples? Even Lesbians liked her, perhaps the most difficult community to get interested in television cookery shows.
Surprisingly, many women quite like Nigella and her dishes. They can see that Nigella is also talking to them too. Perhaps the food on offer will burst them out last year's fashions but Nigella has made curves and generous proportions (and portions) very attractive. They know their partners will always be looking and assessing other women's bodies so why not be modelled after Nigella? Stick-thin poppets might look attractive at a nightclub but don't expect them to know anything about boiling sprouts!
In an interview with the Financial Times, Nigella let slip that she 'enjoys a rigorous sexual work out' before filming her programmes. This used to happen after the show but Nigella chose to switch times as she found it difficult to concentrate on mixing the right ingredients if 'rumpy' was in the offing.
|Now that I am allowed to film at home with my fabulous kitchen, it works better if I do it earlier in the day with Charles. He is quite considerate and understands that now I am experienced pro with erotically-charged cooking, I can discipline myself a lot better. And for those puritans who think food and sex should be kept separate I say that's so typically English. The last time I looked, Queen Victoria was most definitely dead.|
2003-2006: War With Delia
Nigella's mouth drooling banquets were marketed as the perfect aphrodisiac. Her mixture of dough and orgasmic gruntings made her show the top rated. Other cooks were encouraged to take Nigella on but Delia Smith refused to make her apple crumbles whilst dressed as a dominatrix. Delia was down whilst Nigella soared. Delia knew she couldn't compete. Food for Frumps was her secret weapon but when Nigella published Eat Me As I Am - Smith gave up and bought football club.
Not one to hide anything, Nigella celebrated her cookery victories with a series of books with provocative titles. They included:
- I Am Delicious
- My Hand up a Turkey's Arse
- Turn Me Up to Maximum Heat
- You Bring Me To Boil
- Drain Me! Drain Me!!
- I Am Yours After You Load the Dishwasher
- I Always Do It With a Safe Colander
One of her younger rivals, the boy chef Jamie Oliver asked the BBC to re-classify Nigella's television show as 'Cookery Porn' .He wanted it shown late at night and away from viewers with a more suggestive train of thought. By associating food with stomach bonk-fest, Oliver reasoned Nigella was turning people to artery-choking burgers rather than the more simple, wholesome dishes he preferred.
Nigella refused and kept producing her game pies and chase puddings and moved on to Channel 4. These shows just increased her coverage and led to them to be sold to the USA where Betty Crocker still kept Americans enslaved to genetically modified bland.
2007-2009: Nigella and Gordon Ramsay
Nigella researches for her latest recipes that will sound good with innuendo. Nigella had many other enemies. One of her most vocal is Gordon Ramsay who labels her shows Tartamania and criticises her for making dishes that only millionaires can afford the indredients. This has an element of truth as Nigella married Charles Saatchi who is worth millions but hates mixing with people below a certain income level. So Nigella often entertains alone if she has low grade guests round for a food blow-out.
In her own defence and perhaps a recognition that her time may be passing, Nigella has eased back on the direct sexualised cuisine approach she seemed to readily to endorse. With a rich husband and her own substantial income, it's unlikely Nigella will be forced to eat boiled carrot soup any day soon. Unless that she produces a dish that will give dinner party guests e.coli or Botulism A La Francais. But the fate of Fanny remains a warning to all.