This has been quite a day for me – I’ve become a god mother (which I’m really excited by), my god son is a paragon of every virtue (he didn’t cry once) and I’ve publicly renounced Satan and all his temptations – which I feel pretty good about. It has been a little bit distracting though so I’m not in the mood to write about E F Benson’s ‘Mrs Ames’ which was plan A, plan B is in a roundabout way about rearranging my kitchen.
Another (less momentous) landmark passed this week – my collection of virago books reached the 200 score. Since last month’s influx of books I’ve been trying to catch up rather than acquire, but good charity shop finds can’t be ignored and the 200 mark is one I was a little bit keen to pass. In for a penny in for a pound and all that – so when I saw the new Nigella book half price in Waterstone’s I couldn’t resist. I honestly meant to wait until Christmas for this one, but her books have almost totemic status in my kitchen and ‘Kitchen’ (Recipes from the heart of the home) is a more than worthy addition to the canon.
‘Kitchen’ has been my bedtime reading for the last couple of nights and the first thing it’s made me do is act on some long held but half formed plans to organise my own kitchen rather better. The Scottish one got to spend Saturday night in town helping me scrub down the top of the fridge and generally shift and carry, and this is the thing I most love about Nigella. On television I find it hard to warm to her, I don’t doubt that she’s a voluptuous and lovely woman (I saw her once at a book signing, I’ve never in my life seen such a long queue of bashful looking men – all clutching baking books) but I don’t see much of my own life in those programmes, that and they feel a bit over staged.
The books are a different thing altogether. I really like the woman in-between these pages, and perhaps more to the point I trust her (who could help but trust someone who confesses to having over 4000 cookbooks, I mean I thought my collection was getting out of control...) I love these cookbooks because they are precisely that – books full of ideas for people who like to cook, nothing chefy, nothing I feel like I couldn’t tackle, nothing I feel I can’t tinker with if I want to change it. These are things which matter to me – I’m an enthusiastic but not terribly skilled cook, the right guide gives me the confidence to try things I might otherwise avoid – which in turn gives me more skills. Cooking and sharing food is something that makes me happy, and I also share this sentiment entirely “a kitchen however inadequate or alien, has the ability to make you feel once you’ve cooked in it a few times, as though you’ve marked out some safe and reassuring place of your own.”
There are no shortage of days which make me feel like a safe and reassuring place is exactly where I want to be and my kitchen is for me just that place (even more so than under the duvet on a dark and stormy night), especially after my rearrange and now that I can see work surface again. It’s also really nice to read someone who’s serious about their food, but happy to have a trashy, kitschy element to it – Nigella never makes me feel judged for liking things I probably shouldn’t (like Fry’s Creams).