Nigella Lawson describes her latest series "Nigella: At My Table" as a "delicious celebration of home cooking - food that makes people feel happy and welcome as they sit around your table." In the show, Nigella shares the food she cooks for family and friends. Whether offering up her fresh take on familiar classics, or creating new dishes inspired by different cuisines, she focuses on everyday eating that is always pleasurable, with a minimum of fuss.
In this interview, Lawson talks about her favorite ingredient, British cuisine and the joy of serving deviled eggs.
Q: Can you tell us anything about the series, and what makes it different from your previous shows?
Nigella Lawson: It is always essential to me is to be able to share the food I love, show how it is cooked, say what it means to me, and just speak from the heart. I’m not scripted and I’m not a presenter any more than I’m a chef: I cook in the way I cook, and I talk the way I talk; I have no other way of doing it! But I do feel that in this series, I’ve really been able to talk - to chat, really - about where these recipes come from, and why they are such an important part of my life and home, as well as show how straightforward, simple and joyous they are to cook. This series really is about bringing the food from my table to yours. And I’m very excited as well for you to see the re-done kitchen!
Q: What’s one ingredient you can’t do without?
Nigella Lawson: That’s too hard to answer! I feel it’s impossible to settle on just one. So I’ll be greedy and choose three, I’m afraid. For me, the basic essentials are olive oil, lemons – I use the zest as well as the juice in my cooking all the time, in sweet and savory dishes - and good sea salt flakes, which again I use in sweet as well as savory cooking. Over-salting can be catastrophic in cooking, I know, but under-salting is not the answer!
Q: Who are your ideal dinner party guests to have at your table?
Nigella Lawson: I don’t want anyone at my table that I don’t feel comfy with: I want old friends and family and people who like eating. But then, I’m not a formal dinner party sort of person.
Q: What’s the classic dish to serve with friends that never fails?
Nigella Lawson: Roast Chicken with roast or mashed potatoes, peas, leeks and a big salad is always a favorite on my table. But for friends who are vegan or vegetarian I’m always ready with an aromatic vegetable curry. And I have to make one to eat at least once a week myself anyway.
Q: What do you love most about British cuisine?|
Nigella Lawson: I love its variety, and the wide scope of the influences that have fed into it. I do have a particular fondness, it’s true, for traditional baking - there is a Queen of Puddings in the series, for example - but I also love the spicier end of the spectrum. And what’s important to me is that British Cuisine is very much the story of home cooking: it’s not a classical cuisine emanating from men in toques!
Q: What do you enjoy about fusing different cultures into food?
Nigella Lawson: Bringing the flavors and ingredients of other food cultures makes me think of the food I habitually cook in a different way, and it brings new life into the kitchen. So often, it helps me find shortcuts to deeper flavor. Most of all, it inspires me. And it’s very liberating.
Q: What’s your favorite undiscovered ingredient that we should use more of?
Nigella Lawson: I don’t know if I believe in ‘shoulds’ but I only fairly recently found fresh turmeric in my local supermarket (which I know is lucky) and I love cooking with it. I still do use ground turmeric, but there is a beautiful citrussy and almost floral freshness as well as earthy pungency to fresh turmeric. I’ve got a couple of recipes in the new series that celebrate it and can’t wait to share them.
Q: What do you think of recent food trends - in the series you reference the use of spiralised vegetables instead of pasta - soya milk, clean eating?
Nigella Lawson: I never pay much attention to food fads, although I do believe it is possible to take inspiration anywhere. For me, the thing is to add to my repertoire not restrict it. I cook as I eat: I believe in balance, and enjoying as much, not as little, as possible!
Q: How do you think home cooking compares to the likes of restaurant home delivery services? Why should people continue home cooking?
Nigella Lawson: I don’t know that I’d think of comparing them. They are different, just as going to a restaurant is different from eating at home. Everyone should do what suits them, makes their life easier and happier day to day.
Q: Are there any food that aren’t fashionable anymore that you still love?
Nigella Lawson: I don’t care if food is fashionable or not as long as it tastes good! It’s such a pity if a dish falls out of favor because of fashion, but then again, the upside to this is the joy of rediscovery. So yes, sometimes I do get the urge to remind people of some past deliciousness, and I have to say Deviled Eggs are a case in point. Whenever I make them people always seem surprised at first to see them - and then they just cannot stop eating them.