November 26, 2016
i’m not exactly a die-hard fan of Nigella (it must be because I’m watching episodes of her shows lately on DVR) – guess I’ve never really held an individual or a team over the rest (maybe it’s just my nature or how I was brought up). But like an artist who releases a seminal record; her “Bites” series I truly applaud. I’ve seen her other series (“Nigellisima”, “Forever Summer” and parts of “Feasts” and “Express”). I’m not really obsessed with her but can understand why some are (and why individuals with OCD or with time to spare might not).
I think it’s her love of books, cooking “philosophies” and her dry sense of humour I find alluring. It’s not only her volumes of cook books but her hand-scribbled notes and her ability and willingness to make a recipe her own that differentiates her. Our mutual fondness for chilies and thyme does not hurt.
Maybe it’s the Asian in me (political correctness aside) that agrees with her that French cooking tends to be about the chef and Italian cooking tends to be about the food. I tend not to discriminate based on the cuisine: tasty is tasty I, generally, will try it first before I form an opinion. Bizarre foods (I’m Filipino after all) are not necessarily a deal-breaker but previous pets or experiences (like most) delay or inhibit my gastronomical adventurousness.
My palette is a result of my overdeveloped sense of smell and the ability of my tongue to differentiate (it did not hurt that my father exposed me to a lot of “unusual” things), it’s simply a fact and not really a result of other things like snobbishness. I can be very particular about how something tastes; it’s not be difficult or uppity but simply being a “slave” to that reality.
I can see why my “niece” says that American cooking shows (by and large) seem artificial and contrived to her. There is something authentic about Bites. Like the shows of Anthony Bourdain (in my mind, it’s a travel show with food in it to better understand the culture – I would probably still watch it even without the food due to the writing ), maybe it’s the “naturalness” that lends itself to being genuine. The kitchen should not be like a display home (unless one is a neat freak): in my mind, there’s nothing wrong with it being orderly but it should feel used and not antiseptic.
I consider Heston (and Alton Brown – perhaps it’s the geek in me but as a student I wasn’t fond of Chemistry) a star but pretence is a result of creativity (and not vice-versa) but not only is Nigella a “domestic goddess”, I find her very practical (as evidenced by the “shorter” time most of her recipes take). In a world of food snobs and food porn propagated by Instagram, I still believe that the proof of the pudding (the pun was unintentional), is in the eating. Sure, presentation is vital (as we also eat with our eyes) but taste is still paramount.