From the Great British Bake Off to Nigellissima – A Shock to the Senses

This post was written several months ago and I only just found out it was posted online! I lament the passing of the Great British Bake Off and make a suggestion to the BBC, which has sadly yet to be taken up. I live in hope. Originally posted on The Student Journals.

Nigella Lawson

Recently, GBBO came to an abrupt end with the crowning of John as the winner after thirteen weeks of pastry, patisserie and piping. Its cult following wept. Every Tuesday evening, tens of thousands across the country settled down with a nice cup of Earl Grey and, no doubt, a sample of whatever was featured on the show that week. We ‘ooh’ed and ‘ahh’ed at the mishaps and mistakes of the bakers, and shouted at the television whenever someone was heading for disaster. ‘Five cakes? But you were asked to make one, James, just one! Let’s not complicate things!’ ‘Your buttercream is too thick and lumpy, that’s going to look like porridge.’ ‘WOAH DON’T DROP YOUR PUDDING ON THE FLOOR YOU CLUMSY IDIOT.’ And so on. The tumblr ‘Mary Berry Biting into Things’ became my obsession for quite some time, and it’s still bookmarked.

So lately my cooking show allegiance has swapped, because the allure of watching glossy and delicious food on television is just too much to resist of on a cold winter’s night. Keeping with the Beeb, I’ve plumped for Nigellissima, which is conveniently on after my Monday staple, University Challenge – our team winning being an obvious plus. In this Italian programme, Nigella deftly flits between London and Florence in an attempt to bring a bit of Italian into our everyday cooking.

That’s the idea, anyway. However I’ve been finding her ideas increasingly ridiculous and completely impractical, whether I’m a student or anything else. Practically every week she’s telling us to head to our ‘local deli’ to find this or that ingredient. Do you know where your ‘local deli’ is? No, I don’t either. Whilst I’m all for going the extra mile for a delicious meal, I’m not trekking to a specialist deli to find barley that, by the looks of things, serves exactly the same purpose as risotto rice. In addition, one recipe was effectively ‘dessert pasta’, presumably from the risotto-barley-stocking-deli, which Nigella combined with butterscotch sauce and pecans. This is effectively SWEET FOR AFTER DINNER PASTA and was a concept I just couldn’t get my head around.

Another insane moment came in the first episode with ‘meatzza’ which has sincebecame become my favourite non-word. It’s just like normal pizza, apart from the dough is replaced with mince, so effectively putting cheese and tomatoes onto a steak, baking and eating. What a perfectly reasonable suggestion that will, against all Nigella’s protestations, inevitably turn out dry as sandpaper.

Having said all of that, I do find Nigella’s programme useful in providing some basic tips; her plum crumble sounds delicious and the ‘tiramisini’ look and taste delicious – I’ve already made them. But what these two dishes have in common is they aren’t anything I wouldn’t do myself, without Nigella’s kind instruction. Despite her claim in a recent interview that she asked her crew to make the food, not her, look sexy and irresistible, her eyes still flutter a tad too much for my liking. And no-one pouts that much. EVER.

Why didn’t John, GBBO’s victor, get his own six-part show? I could watch him for hours, in all his endearing meek nervousness! Where is Mary Berry with her Zara floral bomber jacket? Forget dessert pasta, I just want a slice of cake. Someone commission that woman for her own show, I beg you. It’s never too late to bring back the Berry. I’ve already got the title for you – Berry Bakes and Bites. You’re welcome, BBC.



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