What has happened to Nigella Lawson?   Is this really the same sharp, sassy personality, the finger-licking Goddess of gastroporn,  who hosted Nigella Bites in the nineties – the seductress who with bedroom eyes taught us how to break eggs, fondling the yolk in her hand while the white glistened and slipped between her fingers?  Then she was subtle, suggestive, her eyes hinted at much more than dinner. Food had never been so sexy. 

In her latest series, Nigella Express, which commenced on BBC2 last night, she doesn’t so much bite as wobble. She has become a caricature of herself.  Her superior 32G-cup breasts strain for release,  her bottom protrudes like a bustle as she waddles – yes waddles – at high speed around the kitchen of her new pad,  like Donald Duck in a pin-ball machine.  

I realise that this series is about fast cooking for busy mums,  but seduction even with food, cannot – repeat cannot – be done quickly.  If you want efficient fast food, ring Delia, not Nigella.  Nigella’s appeal lies in the looks held just that second or so too long, the well crafted turn of innuendo, the lingering lick of a finger, the caress of a fish.  Speed it and the result is ridiculous. 

Remember that advertisement for the new Megane with the big boot.  Nigella Express treats us to a veritable feast of gluteal oscillation.  This isn’t about fast food; it’s about fast sex.  Look side ways at camera – bat eyelashes – shake hair – get squid from the fridge, look at camera again – closer,  shake squid in polythene bag with cornflour, bicarb and ‘tangy American allspice that I bought in Dallas’ – suggestive look at camera – heat oil – shake coated squid into it – deep fry until brown.  Grab jar of mayonnaise from the fridge – chop garlic – mix – wipe finger in it – lick finger – sexy look at camera. And there you have it, crunchy squid with mayonnaise – wonderful for a quick fuck – I mean snack!    

Nigella tries to come across as a busy mum, but it doesn’t quite work.  The fact is she is married to one of the richest men in England,  she has a purpose build kitchen apartment in an industrial estate on the South Circular and she goes by taxi to shop in the supermarket and keeps the meter ticking.  ‘There! Just five minutes’.  Her father, the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer’, is coming to dinner.   

There is an arrogance about Nigella these days, a faceitiousness about food.  No worries over fat; butter, cream, just pour it on!  Cut the fatty skin off the pork?  No way!  It’s the best bit.  Nigella is a voluptuous girl with enormous appetites and she just doesn’t care if the butter runs down her chin.   

She meets her friends for a night out, applies her mascara in the car, but can’t wait to get back. For what? An hour of hot sauce with Charles?  No!  Caramel croissants; the best thing after a night out!  She looks sideways at the camera and rolls her eyes like an erotic actress at the moment of penetration.  Such a good thing to do with your stale croissants! 

First, put on a silky black kimono. Then heat sugar in water in the pan until it turns amber, tear the croissants into chunks, plunge them in, add a pot of cream and bake in the oven – 180 degrees for 20 minutes.  ‘That was wonderful’, she moans as she opens her eyes wide, looks sideways at the camera, pushes back the locks of dark hair that have fallen all over her face and pulls her kimono together. 

The credits start to roll as I stretch, breathe out at last and make to get up.

 But, she pleads, ‘you haven’t seen my poussins yet!’

Advertisements