Meeting Nigella Lawson

It’s a special moment when the opportunity arises to meet your idol, someone you’ve admired from afar for a long time. Of course, the small fear that niggles away is that disappointment may await you. I’m happy to report that on meeting Nigella Lawson there was no disappointment – only a lovely moment in time that I will always treasure.

I have been a fan of Nigella since my twenties. If Audrey Hepburn is my idol from a bygone error then Nigella is most definitely my modern-day idol. I love her style, her approach to food – and life in general, for that matter.

So when my friend Angela asked if I’d like to accompany her to see Nigella: In Conversation I immediately jumped at the chance. What? Nigella’s coming to New Zealand? Do I want to go? Is that a serious question? Of course!

It was a fabulous evening and I’m so grateful to Angela for organising it.

Nigella spoke about her childhood, her early days in journalism that came with a stint as a restaurant critic. I particularly enjoyed hearing about her childhood because I could relate to a lot of what she said. I grew up in New Zealand, possibly one of the outdoor capitals of the world. Sports and outdoor pursuits is huge, which poses a problem for those who are more creatively inclined. Give me a good film, a great book, delicious food or a few hours in a café with my laptop any day of the week. My idea of enjoying the outdoors on a beautiful day is an al fresco lunch.

Nigella said that when you’re someone who doesn’t like to run around or be told what to do being a child can be rather tedious. I wanted to throw my hand in the air and shout, “that’s me!” Honestly, the number of hideous school camps, youth camps, hikes and other ‘outdoor pursuits’ I had to endure during my youth rank highly among the not so pleasant memories from my childhood. I also hate being told what to do and, let’s face it, that’s a fairly major part of being a child.

But I digress.

Another story I enjoyed hearing (although the entire interview was fascinating) was how Nigella came to write her first cookery book – How to Eat. I’ve always believed that to love to cook you first need to love to eat. But my copy of this book is rather special to me for another reason.

When I was in my twenties (that’s some time ago now – sigh) and working in London my boss at the time, who incidentally is still a very dear friend, bought me How to Eat for my birthday. I’d never heard of Nigella before that. I read the book from cover to cover, began cooking from it immediately and have been hooked ever since.

Following the interview – which was a complete joy because Nigella is so engaging – I made quickly for the book stand to buy her latest book – At My Table. I hadn’t yet had a chance to purchase it and it seemed an opportune time considering Nigella was book signing!

At first glance the queue looked rather daunting and I feared a long wait. But it moved relatively quickly (thank you, once again, to Angela for being so patient) and before I knew it there she was in front of me. And yes, let me tell you that she is just as beautiful in the flesh as she is on television.

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The first words to come out of my mouth were, “I’m a big fan”. How original! And rather ridiculous considering every other person waiting in line was also a big fan. But, you know, I was nervous. I managed to get things back on track and told Nigella I wished I had thought to bring along one of her not-so-new books that I have in my collection – the books that are extremely well used and splattered with food. She would love that, I think.

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I’m not known for being the tidiest cook and when I’m in full flow ingredients do tend to land in places I hadn’t meant them to. But then a well-used cookbook is a well-loved one.

Nigella’s parting comment to me was, “well, if I’m down this way again . . .” and then smiled as she handed me my now signed book.

IMG_3619A wonderful moment.

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22 Comments

  1. Rini says:

    Wow! That’s such an exciting opportunity, Tracey! There’s no shame in what you said. I think I would have been just as starstruck with Nigella, if not more. She’s such a beautiful person, inside and out. I also have to say, I admire your book collection! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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