• The curse of the Meatzza...

    Ah, Nigella. As soon as she appears with a new TV series and subsequent cookbook, people start salivating and talking about her greatness as a ‘domestic queen’.

    She probably is. 

    I have always known her food shows to posses the double entendre, the sexual innuendos passed with such ease that she is making the viewer captivated for the next screenshot, enough to continue watching.

    Listen, my friends made some mini-lime cheesecakes and brought them round at the weekend. They were amazing, I tip my hat to you Ms Lawson; you are the princess of the pud. Mary Berry still holds the crown.

    But her latest series, passed off as ‘speedy Italian cooking, made simple in the eyes of Nigella’ is trying to be a contradiction of things, that’s where I take exception.

    I’m probably being a bit thick about this

    Look, Nigella states that this is her take on Italian food. Granted, when Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay go down that route, there are no issues from me. I have none. There isn’t any pretense to good old Jamie using summer veg in his Carbonara; he’s not telling me that this is the original thing, he’s telling me that the flavours go well together. I tried it. They do.

    It’s not traditional.

    And Nigella isn’t trying to be original, or that’s what she claims. Her claim is that her “spiritual home for food and culture” is il Bel Paese, and that these recipes are just “borrowed ideas”. Fine. That’s just another way of saying “my take on things”. Great.

    But halfway through her first show she tries to justify that Italian food is not traditional to begin with. That there are no set rules. By using two different cookbooks for the same recipe there are differences; and this is evidence that, “anything goes”. A contradiction to the premise of the show.

    Frustrating yet simple...

    If I were to use that logic, then adding five spice to my puttanesca should be classed as Italian and fine then? How about marshmallows to my Tiramisu?

    I don’t care or couldn’t care less how you decide to do your pasta, if the sauce is different or not. What I do find frustrating is when there seems to be this justification that because it is different from one cookbook to the next, it becomes all relative and it’s still Italian.

    Italian food, to the purist is about maximising those ingredients around you. Making best use of four to five ingredients per dish, at most, for even the most basic pasta recipe. And she is right, recipes change from one town to the next, but they have commonalities, sense of origin. It is frustrating, beyond frustrating but that's Italian cuisine!

    I think Nigella is creative, her Nutella inspired cheesecake is genius, he version of tagliata with the chips cooked in cold oil is new one for me. However, Meatzza is nothing to do with any recipe I know of or could find in Italian food history; that’s not to say that it shouldn’t be Italian of nature but it’s not, Italian. And the cheesecake, even in her own admission is nothing, Italian, just inspired by Italy.

    I’m paying for...

    I couldn’t help but feeling that Nigella’s plot to sell more books, based on the favoured Italian cuisine of many is a bit of a con. It feels like I am paying for an Alfa but getting an Austin Allegro.

    There will be jokes about the “wrath of De Blasio” and fairs fair; I am a food traditionalist to a degree, some of my greatest creations in the kitchen have been inspired events but they aren’t traditional in the culinary objectivity I impart on shows like these.

    This show is like craving a “proper” pizza, buying a Domino’s pizza and then saying, “It’s not like the one we had in Naples”.

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