An unfortunate childhood, just quite simply because it didn’t fit her, lead Nigella to retreat to books. She didn’t want to run around. She hated being told what it was she needed to learn. Instead she curled up quietly and read. She read the Brontes, but she equally read Enid Blighton. Why should you be superior about what you read? Just read what you like.
Nigella spoke quietly and calmly once she settled into her comfy chair on stage at the Aotea Centre in Auckland. She stunningly held presence from the moment she appeared, ravishing in a vivid voluminous red dress. At 58 she is what many women would aspire to be, comfortable, beautiful, composed and thoughtful.
What caught me as she spoke was her consideration for the audience. She entertained but with clarity of thought. She is intelligent and reflective of her experiences and how they have shaped her life and herself as a person. Everything she discussed she did from the angle of positivity. Yet, she didn’t preach or sell us on how to be so ourselves. She spoke of doing a little that frightens or scares you, but not so much that you can’t get out of bed in the morning due to that fear. Yet, if you don’t do this then you are likely to be bored and that is equally as powerful at keeping you from wanting to face your day.
In regards to appearances on shows such as MasterChef, her response was around the emotion and atmosphere of the Australian show. She loves it because she respects that those who go on the show are so keen to learn. The Judges in Australia are equally as taken with trying to teach and help. She’s honoured to be a part of that process. With so many commentators who don’t consider these reality shows from the angle of those who choose to be a part of them, it was lovely to hear her describe it in this way.
Appearance on other global shows were not necessarily as positive an experience. Yet, there was no negativity or moaning from Nigella. (I wonder if she even knows how to be negative after this evening.) She explains some of these life opportunities as those that she didn’t feel she was put on earth to partake in. That they were accidental and not something she would repeat. Then again, when she speaks of Anthony Bourdain and speaks of “Tony and I”, I feel a little pang of jealousy that she had the chance to work alongside such a remarkable man and so closely that he is known as Tony.
In spite of such stories she is still surprised when others define her as being in the food industry. She ‘writes’ and she has happened to write books about food and with recipes. She loves to cook and she loves to eat. She doesn’t feel there should be a hierarchical perception around this though. Why should someone who loves to cook be an authority over those who don’t? Cook because you enjoy it.
Her care and consideration on stage is testament to her desire for order and perfection in what she produces. Whilst she is not interested in a tray of cookies all looking the same, she does wish to produce books and shows that reflect quality. Her own shows are recorded 5 times to create one episode. Each of these focuses on a different aspect such as sound, closeup, side view and from above. She attributes quirky and fun names to each take and the crew have been with her from the start. She is known as Deputy sound because she loves to bring as much of the cooking sounds into the show to make up for the omission of aroma via a screen. Her Producer cringes whenever she needs to use a knife because she is clumsy. Can you imagine? She bumps into things, cuts herself and is constantly grating her own fingers.
I felt such an affinity with so much of what she shared. No more than when she spoke of wishing she was Italian. “You are either are Italian or you wish you were” (that is my quote!) Yet, I went to Italy and learned Italian and cooking. She went to Florence and worked as a Chamber Maid, trying on ladies coats and spraying herself with their fragrances as she cleaned their rooms.
Some current lifestyle gurus advise us to’ just do want you want and don’t try to do all that you can’. There is a feeling that you will be happier if you simplify your life. However, Nigella believes in doing all that you can do. Take risks and don’t be frightened of failure. Failures lead to success. Her advise to a Mum in the audience for youth today is the same as the advise to her own children, “Do it now”
I came home content. I loved her. I wasn’t sure what it would be like to simply listen to Nigella and not see her cook. It was fabulous.
She reminded us about the power of being ourselves.
She reminded us to laugh at ourselves.
She reminded us to be comfortable with who we are and acknowledge it.
She reminded us to be fearless.