When Nigella Lawson pulled a spiralizer out of an enormous wooden cupboard on her new TV show, At My Table, last night, I tensed up. I have loved Nigella for as long as I can remember because she gives us all permission to eat and enjoy food without feeling guilty about it. This is a woman who once made an entire pizza base out of meat just because she fancied it; if she was about to show us how actually you can make courgette strings taste as good as pasta, then my food-loving soul would have shrivelled up and fled from this cold new culinary world, possibly taking refuge in a discarded takeaway box with lasagne sheets for a blanket and cake crumbs for a pillow.
Shame on me for worrying. This is Nigella Lawson, the woman who thinks nothing of adding an entire pack of butter to a recipe meant for two people. I should have had faith in her.
Nigella is openly greedy and leans right into it. If it tastes good, she’ll eat it – sod the calories and the fat
“I read recently that the two things that are donated most frequently to charity shops are Dan Brown books and spiralizers,” she said, smiling mischievously. “While you will never find me making zoodles or courgetti or fashioning any other vegetable to masquerade as pasta, I have found that the spiralizer really does make great shoestring fries.”
She then proceeded to take two enormous potatoes, use her spiralizer to turn them into chips and cheerily fry them in an enormous vat of oil. At the end of the segment, she had a plate piled high with perfect fries – golden brown, sprinkled generously with sea salt, so crispy you could hear them clink against the plate – and a look of serene happiness on her face.
At the moment, it can feel like most women who are famous for talking about food are famous precisely because they’re coming from an angle of suppressing their appetites, creating low-calorie recipes that will stop them snacking throughout the day and guilt-free brownies they can “indulge” in as a treat.
Nigella, meanwhile, is openly greedy and leans right into it. If it tastes good, she’ll eat it – sod the calories and the fat. It shouldn’t feel so revolutionary for a woman who makes a living talking about food to cook and enjoy a plate of chips, but it is. And seeing her take something people use to aid them in their self-denial and instead use it to create something unhealthy and pleasurable was utterly joyful.
“I’m going to crunch my way through these very happily. There is no elegant way to eat them, and that’s in their favour,” Nigella said, shoving a fistful of perfect chips in her face and chuckling to herself when not all of them made it into her mouth. She walked away from the camera to finish the plate, lascivious and unselfconscious and utterly wonderful in every way. Long live Nigella, queen of hearts, chips and happy, full bellies everywhere.