Filthy Fizz

December 30th, 2010

I heard Nigella Lawson on NPR for the first time a few days ago while I was taking my boys to school.  She was rattling off her favorite holiday recipes to Steve Inskeep on Morning Edition.  Having never heard Nigella Lawson before, I was somewhat startled by the following factoids…

She was a famous cook of this era who seemed to also have a fleet footed mind.

She had an uncanny ability to brandish what seemed to me to be a somewhat formidable wit in a manner that seemed both effortless and original!

I was so stricken by the cleverness of Nigella and her simple holiday recipe/dry British witty/ comedy radio show that I went right out and bought the ingredients to make one of her suggested Christmas concoctions – her filthy fizz.

I know very little about the world of celebrity chefs.  In fact, the amount of information that I know about people who curry a career out of cutting cookies in front of a camera could easily be contained in a very small nutshell.  Here is what I do know…

1.  Paula Deen always looks like she is frightened and claims to have had agoraphobia (self diagnosed after she saw a story about it on Oprah).

2.  Ree Drummond also claims to have agoraphobia (also self diagnosed, Oprah not involved in this one).

3.  Rachel Ray makes me feel tired, but she seems likable.

4.  I am scared of Martha Stewart.

5.  Oh!  Is that why Paula Deen always looks frightened?

So as you can see – there are gaps in my knowledge, but I do love a funny lady, so when I got home I googled Nigella Lawson’s recipe for filthy fizz to make a list of necessary ingredients.  It was then that I noted that the text that accompanied the recipe was almost word for word what she had said during the interview on NPR.  Mmmmkay…. I thought.  So I guess she is just as schticky as the rest of them, but my curiosity and my disdain was now peaked… uh I mean PIQUED! and I had to take a look at this Nigella Lawson lady and see if her appearance said ‘cook’ to me.

Uh no.

And then I hearkened back to the good old days…

When a cook looked like a cook.

And not like the cover of a dime-store romance.

Oh the halcyon days when a cook talked like a cook!

And dressed like a cook!

And it was all about the cooking!

And not the cleavage!

But I made the filthy fizz anyway.

And it was kind of fun to make a drink called filthy fizz.

I carted the makings around to a few parties and everyone enjoyed my filthy fizz.

I made it with sparkling pinot grigio (no prosecco around these parts) and a few splashes of ginger syrup from Starbucks (the barista gave me a cup of their syrup for free!).  This is the recipe that Nigella spoke of on NPR and not the one mentioned in the linked recipe.  It was very nice and very holidayish and sort of new and sporty.

That is all I have to say about that.



  • You should try to catch her on Food network. She’s not at all the glamour girl that picture would suggest. But rather down to earth and rather frumpy really. I like her.

  • Sara:

    The men in my family call the Food Network the “Boob Network” :)

  • Wendy:

    oh no no no no no

    that’s the worst photo of nigella that I’ve EVER seen. She’s not a skinney minny (that pic is totally shopped) and she cooks and EATS real food.

    Watch her show. You’ll convert to a nigella lover

  • I have never seen her show so I do not know how she looks like while cooking but I do know that if us wives ever looked like her when we cook everything would get burned. LOL

  • Christine from Canada:

    See, the thing that pisses me off about NIgella is that she uses sexuality in a MAJOR way on her cooking shows. A LOT of camera work is close-up work of her hands at counter level — which also HAPPENS to be at cleavage level. Or, it’s close-up shots of her face in profile, with her lips moist and open, her hair falling over one eye. If she’s not slicing something, then she’s using her HANDS to squish things open, you know? She takes big bites out of oozy, gooey, slippery things and has to wipe her chin. She licks her fingers with such sensuality, well…you get the picture. But, yeah, she’s a real person who doesn’t scrimp on butter, fats, calories.

    Hate Giada with such a passion you have no idea. The way she overpronounces her “t”s and “s”s and “r”s is like nails on a chalkboard.

    Now, Tyler Florence? Oh, hello!

    • Emily:

      YES! Thank you! I cannot stand Giada. The woman is what, like, fourth generation American and has no accent whatsoever. Why does she need to suddenly pretend she grew up in the Tuscan countryside when pronouncing words like “prosciutto”?

  • susan:

    I love to watch Nigella and have one of her cookbooks. DID. I gave it to Goodwill. FRUMPY???!!! Au contraire! A healthy voluptuous seems apropos and its nice she is not a rail. She lost her husband to cancer with 2 small children about 7 or 8 yrs. ago and seems really down to earth. I love to cook but dont care for her methods or recipes. She RARELY seasons and that drives me nuts. Her vocabulary is extremely florid when describing food.

  • ilovecress:

    Every Nigella Recipe Ever:

    Take a normal recipe and double the amount of butter/cream/sugar. Then enjoy.

  • I guess people who film those shows must be men. There is a lot of boob flaunting going on, but it doesn’t matter to me. Good food is good food no matter how big the boobs! And Nigella is awesome. Simple recipes that are very tasty. And I like Giada’s food too, but then much of her stuff is updated versions of food I grew up on. But if you can find a Nigella book you should give it a try!

    • ilovecress:

      Actually (and I know a couple of people who make her shows) it isn’t. The whole Nigella ‘brand’ is that a woman can be sexy AND curvy, AND a housewife. It’s aimed towards the ‘shops and lunches’ crowd, and pretty much works.

      Fun fact – shes the daughter of Nigel Lawson, who was the Chancellor under Thatcher.

      • JimmyBoy:

        She’s married to one of the Saatchi brotyhers I think, and lives in some mega million £ house in W London.

        And yes – she’s every straight bloke’s dream: loves food, she’s seriously curvy (see – blokes mostly aren’t fixated on size 0”s or anything close) and she has that slightly filthy thing going on in her eyes. Hmmmm

  • I hate Hate HAAATE when Giada says the word “Mozzarella”


    • JudyB:

      She’s from a real Italian family, and simply pronounces it the Italian way.

    • susan:

      I agree Jordan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Emily:

      So. Much. Word.

      It doesn’t make sense that she pronounces a handful of words in the Italian way when she has no Italian accent whatsoever.

  • Amanda:

    I have a love/hate relationship with her. I think her effusive use of language is overbearing and “put on” (loves to put “age” on the end of nouns – crumbage, sousage, as in soucing a pudding with liquid… arg!) I do like that she is a bit lumpy and rolly and not afraid of tight clothing, boobage (her word!) but … so that’s her shtick (sold out, sisters!). I think the expression “food porn” really took off when she came on the scene. Having said that, some of her recipes are terrific – some not so. I have 2 of her books.
    Her interview with Michael Parkinson (“Parky” well known British interviewer of celebs) when Eddie Izzard was also a guest was brilliant – verbal cat fight between Nigella and Eddie. She is involved with Charles Saatchi, so after a sad start should be pretty chuffed now.

  • annmarie:

    Oh, I love Nigella. I think I may have a crush on her. She is gorgeous, both in looks and personality. And she eats and looks like she enjoys every bit, which I like about someone who cooks. I don’t like a tiny little cook. It’s not normal. She’s extremely intelligent and interesting. My SIL, who passed away 3 years ago, was from England and she intorduced me to her. And speaking of people who cook and are extremely funny, if you haven’t read anything by Anthony Bourdain, you should. He is extremely funny. He wrote Kitchen Confidential. Good biting sense of humor.

    • JudyB:

      Love Anthony Bourdain! He’s been one of the judges on the current series of Top Chef. Read Kitchen Confidential also—what a different world.

    • km:

      He’s a doll. A good ol’ boozing, smoking, swearing doll. And he came up through the dive restaurants and bad wages route, so he knows reality:)

    • susan:

      Love, love, LOVE Anthony Bourdain! He is articulate, hilarious and such an adorable bad boy. I have read 2 of his books and gave his cookbook to my son for Christmas. Said cookbook is more than just full of recipes – he has all sorts of asides within.

  • annmarie:

    By the way – that pic is nothing what she looks like on her shows. She is indeed “lumpy” as another commenter said.

  • Imagine Julia or Paula in the getup Nigella is wearing? The thought alone made me laugh.

  • Kay in KCMO:

    Hubby and I used to watch Nigella years ago, but then schedules changed and we haven’t paid much attention since. But, boy, were those shows fun to watch. Her pavlovas…Thor help me (and I don’t even like meringue!). And deep-fried Bounty bars! And the things she can do with meat.

    She’s fun to watch – there’s a casualness and fearlessness about her that makes you believe that you can make what she’s making.

    She got remarried a little while back to that famous, wealthy financier guy that buys all the Damien Hirst art. Can’t think of his name.

  • nanne:

    nigella is one of my favorites…she does seem to enjoy not only cooking, but eating….someone mentioned before that she lost her husband to cancer….she also lost her mother (who evidently had anoexia) and her sister to cancer. thank you chefography.

    she’s a lot of fun to watch.

  • Liz:

    Nigella is good although her stuck up accent makes me crazy. Jamie Oliver is the ultimate celebrity chef in my opinion, so inspiring and fun to watch.

  • kathleen:

    Nigella is not a glamour gilr at all. She’s overweight and has a sort of slovenly way about her that is likeable. I don’t habitually watch cooking shows. Every once in a while channel surfing, something interests me. She’s a hoot and she has a LOVE AFFAIR with food! Very tactile.

  • kathleen:

    I forgot– now Giada, there’s a phony! Paula Deen, Her restaurant is not very good– old food on the buffet,bleh. I love Ina and all her Gays and her cuddly husband Jeffery. I want her house! Still, don’t even watch her much. Happy New year Rechelle!

  • Bludog:

    Nigella comes from a very (VERY!) prominent and wealthy family in England. Her father was a baron and Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Thatcher government. Nigella is an Oxford graduate and had a very successful career as a journalist. She married another journalist who died tragically young of cancer, leaving her with 2 young children. After a couple of years, she married Charles Saatchi (of Saatchi and Saatchi) who is one the wealthiest men in Britain. He had been a good friend of her husband’s.

    She’s very enjoyable to watch – certainly loves food, but (for what it’s worth) I’ve never been very inspired to make any of her recipes.

  • And this is where you just got it entirely wrong.

    The text you read was a transcript of the NPR recording, not the other way around.

    Nigella Lawson is a culinary goddess, not a celebrechef, and not even a chef, she’s a food writer first and foremost, and a cook. Just like Julia Child was never a chef, she was a cook, and an educator and she said so herself.

    Also if you had bothered to google a recent photo of Nigella, you’d see that she’s allowed herself to get rather “hippy” and round, and yet, she’s still stunningly gorgeous and makes incredible food, that is simple and real.

    Rechelle, you’ve got some issues if you can’t take a few minutes to separate the real from the rest. It isn’t that hard to do. Comparing Nigella to any of the others you mentioned in your post is just flat out wrong and uncalled for.

    • Rechelle:

      Dear Chaz French,

      Uh… The photo that I used of Nigella is the first one that came up on my search for images of Nigella Lawson. The transcript to which you refer must have been posted immediately after the story aired because it was there minutes after I listened to it which seems a bit abrupt even for cyberspace. I think like most people who become celebrites due to cooking, Nigella is attractive and good in front of the camera and is either clever or well coached in what she says – I seriously doubt that her cooking skills are better than anyone who devotes themselves to the art of cooking, she just happens to have good ‘features’ for the camera not to mention some pretty hefty connections due to her famous father and wealthy husband.

      In contrast – Julia Child was not by any means a great beauty and her figure was not exactly ‘show stopping’ nor did she have any impressive connections. She accomplished what she did because she worked very hard and filled a space that no one realized existed and because she was simply a wonderful person. As I stated in this very post, I know very little about the world of celebrity chefs, but I recognize shtick when I see it. I still like Nigella though, because she made me laugh and she seems to have an actual brain, but I doubt that she is any better at cooking than your average chef at an average diner – she simply has better luck, genetics, and connections.

      • Kristin:

        I don’t know that Nigella is any better at cooking than many of the other people (note the use of the word people instead of chefs) on Food Network, but she is entertaining & inspiring. She makes me want to cook & eat more…not that I really need help with that. So many other people on FN make me want to turn the TV off. And Nigella looks as if she actually eats what she cooks, unlike other chefs whom I won’t name. I am feeling much too lazy to research the Morning Edition spot, but I know I heard her on ME last year, & perhaps what you heard was actually repeated from then, thus the transcript being posted so quickly.

  • lgirl:

    One interesting thing about Nigella is that she is an atheist.

    • Rechelle:

      Well that is good news!

      • JimmyBoy:

        She’s very well intelligent, educated and has mixed with lots of serious thinkers…so atheism was always more likely.

        So let’s get this straight: curvy, tactile, food loving, atheist… what’s not to like?

  • islandexile:

    And her one pan chicken puts her at the top of my list. Easy, fragrant, beautiful to look at and popular with young and old.

  • MrsD:

    Just a picky comment: “…and my disdain was now peaked… ” It should be piqued, not peaked.

    Sorry. Please continue debating the worthiness of the food network celebrities.

    • Rechelle:

      Yes… or possibly I meant – peaked as in feverish and pale. You know… my disdain was feverish and pale. Surely that is what I meant???

  • Nancy:

    I don’t know squat about Nigella Lawson, but I adore Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa). I tivo her show, have several of her cookbooks and love the fact that she refused to sell out and slap her name on spices, pans, and aprons. Her recipes have never let me down and I enjoy her calm demeanor on camera. I just can’t handle the crackhead pace of Rachel Ray or the yokel act of Paula Deen. Ina Garten’s bio is impressive and her sweet hubby is a doll. They’re precious together. I’ve obviously let myself think about this too much.

    • susan:

      It seems evident that Jeffrey (Ina’s hubby) and Ina are very happy – which is nice to see. She is so expressive with him and they are adorable. I LOVE Ina and have 4 of her cookbooks.

    • Francheska:

      Doesn’t she have an awful over priced brownie mix?

  • Francheska:

    i think everyone should get over Julia fucking Child, seriously, who turns on the stove for more than two hours except on thanksgiving? Nigella won me over with her just midnight cravings chapter on food to celebrate life, its a real treat reading her stuff, Maybe you should stop over thinking just read and enjoy

  • No one mentioned the horror of this post. You can’t get proseco? Who gives a crap about whether Nigella is lumpy or not. Please travel some where and have some fuc#&8ng proseco. It is the poor man’s champagne but instead of cheap champagne you get great proseco. You can be decadent and order and drink two bottles in a restaurant and not break a 100.00 tab. Crap now I feel sorry for you.

    • km:

      I’m with you. We just did that, 2 bottles at lunch, over the holidays, to celebrate a milestone. Can you ship it to you Rechelle? What do you use for Bellinis?

      • Rechelle:

        Bellinis? I live in Kansas people!

        • Rob makes some mean bellinis. I’ll send you some proseco.