Nigella Lawson has made a reputation for going off the beaten path for TV chefs. And she did not disappoint at a book signing last night in a northern suburb of Chicago.
Watching TV chefs on TV, you might wonder how they behave outside the screen in your living room. From every indication, Nigella Lawson is one and the same.
Lawson was there to promote her book, "Nigella's Kitchen." Fans were just as eager to have their pictures taken with her as to have her sign their books.
Though on the book tour, Nigella is eating in a lot of restaurants and minibars, she emphasizes that home cooking is real food, "the sort of food that comes out of my kitchen."
As part of her personality/TV personna, Nigella did note that she had a hot dog on the way over to the signing, and had an occasional Pringles moment out of the minibar. she said that sometimes a meal has to be a not-so-great room service sandwich.
Too often, the world of TV chefs is portrayed as fantasy ideal. Seeing a more realistic portrayal of life come from such an icon was rather endearing.
Even though Lawson lives this TV life, she is ready for the quick satisfying meal once you are home. The easiest meal for her is a roast chicken with lemon and butter. She also talked her way through a recipe for lamb cutlets and a mint sauce. As she was going through the roast chicken recipe, I recalled the episode where she described that particular dish. Not that she matched it word for word, but it sounded right.
Nigella has three children, one by marriage, so I asked her about how she handles school lunches, a popular topic on this side of the pond.
She said it was "absolutely impossible to get enough calories for a growing boy" without having some form of carbohydrates. Nigella says she refuses to make packed lunches for her kids, encouraging them to eat what others are eating.
Lawson did make homemade soup, but found that the food wasn't always eaten. She did say that school lunches would be a problem "if you only get pizza and French fries." Jamie Oliver has apparently done wonders with the British school lunch program, and Nigella may not have enough experience with the U.S. system of using junk food to subsidize costs.
Whether she is working on the TV show or on books, Nigella insists on the staff sitting down to a "proper lunch," as she put it. Sounds like great advice for U.S. school children, and for everyone else.
Nigella did say that you can supplement children's diet with "punchy vegetables" such as carrots.
During the book signing process, Nigella gave some great advice on kids and vegetables. When it comes to getting kids and eating their vegetables, she says you don't want to disguise them, and how to be very careful, as failed attempts leads to distrust.
"Be careful about trickery, it may backfire."
Nigella's suggestions include treating them as valuable in a "it's mine, you can't eat it" attitude.
She suggests soups or carrot juice or pesto to help kids get their share of vegetables, or you can blend them to make them smooth since consistency is an issue for kids.
all pictures taken by me