Nigella's 'Nigellissima' leaves critics reaching for the sick bag
Meat-based pizza and Nutella cheesecake are a recipe for disaster on new cooking show
NIGELLA LAWSON sashayed back onto our screens last night with a new Italian-themed cooking show, Nigellissima, inspired by her gap year spent as a chambermaid in Florence. But artsy soft focus and an "oozing" host did not stop some viewers feeling queasy about the food.
Italy might be Nigella's "spiritual home" but the dishes on her show were less than Italian, complained critics. Nigel Farndale in The Daily Telegraph called it "Italianate cooking", in the same way that "British 19th-century garden design influenced by the Italians was said to be 'Italianate'".
He said the dishes - which included a children's 'meatzza' (a mixture between meatballs and a pizza) and a decidedly un-Italian cheesecake – were a reminder that "her originality is more in the presentation of dishes than in the combination of flavours they represent".
Jack Sharp, from On the Box, said the 'meatzza' was so "grotesquely indulgent” it could have been "conceived by a catastrophically spliffed-up stoner in a bedsit somewhere". With its congealed meat base, it was more like something you would expect to find on a menu "at a low-grade kebab takeaway next to 'Chicken Parmo' and 'The Big Dipper'," he moaned.
"But it goes down surprisingly well with Nigella's friends at what appears to be some kind of elaborate eating ritual, where everything is consumed in artsy soft focus,” added Sharp.
Jane Simon in the Daily Mirror said Nigella's pasta sauce made her want to heave. "We love Nigella but her recipes here look absolutely disgusting. And I don't mean disgusting in a rustic, Italian kind of way. I mean disgusting as in, 'Oh dear, all I've got in the fridge is a tin of chopped tomatoes and some eggs. Do you think I could just chuck them together and then eat them straight out of the pan?'"
Alex Hardy of The Times compared Nigella to "a sexy version of the Very Hungry Caterpillar", but said the food was at times a "sensory and artery overload".
"The feast may have made the kiddies giggle, but it basically resembled a Man v Food burger naked of its bread, followed by a load of Nutella. I'm pretty sure that with this menu at a real-life children's do, the smiles would have been followed swiftly with - here's a neologism for Nigella - a puke-rescendo."
Keith Watson at the Metro did not have the same concerns, but mainly because he wasn't paying attention to the food. "Our heroine coquettishly recalling her youth as a hotel chambermaid in Florence - uniform, dusters, down boy - while sipping a glass of Prosecco on a sun-kissed balcony. Really, after that little lot was downloaded into the hard drive, who could concentrate on cheesecake?"
Watson, who is convinced Nigella must be an avatar of a domestic goddess ("she doesn't cook, she oozes"), added: "She never even makes a mess. Never a splash of cream or naughty tomato threatening her black cocktail frock. It doesn't matter, it's a perfect half hour of gastronomic porn. The food? Oh yeah, it looked lovely. Italian or something." ·