Sunday, October 3, 2010

Nigella v Hugh

Thursday night whilst I was settling in front of the television for an hour or so of thinking about getting round to the ironing I was disturbed by a text message asking if I too though the background music on ‘Nigella’s Kitchen’ was to reminiscent of a porn film. I wasn’t qualified to answer because a) I don’t watch porn – unless you count Nigella, but as I understand it licking your fingers whilst wearing a cardigan is pretty innocent behaviour, and b) I was watching ‘River Cottage Everyday’ at the time.

Thanks to channel 4’s helpful habit of repeating everything an hour later, and BBC iPlayer this isn’t such a problem – but really why on earth schedule my two favourite cooks against each other? Momentary irritation was soon forgotten listening to the lovely Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall wax lyrical about the joys of mussels but it’s all come back to me today.

Sunday (as you might well have noticed) is my day for cleaning the kitchen before turning it back into a bombsite post bake, considering housework before escaping to mooch around John Lewis and Waterstone’s, and realising that I’ve not done anything really useful and it’s time for bed again. After years of practice I’ve got it down to a fine art but today’s rain is making the walk into town really unattractive and looking for inspiration in the kitchen has ended up in a replay of the Hugh v Nigella dilemma.

It normally does come down to one or other of these two. I love Nigella’s what the hell add more butter attitude – perfect for a Sunday afternoon treat (and Monday evening, Tuesday lunch, Wednesday breakfast...) I like how easy she makes things too, but then Hugh – well he has a twinkle in his eye as well, and theoretically his small holding ethos is nearer to my heart. Realistically Nigella’s brand of chocolate covered domestic goddessery often wins out over wholemeal goodness, but then I like the get your hands properly dirty attitude that comes with river cottage. Choices, choices – because after all Hugh seems to like chocolate too, and Nigella isn’t all double cream; the truth is that my ideal lifestyle would be some sort of unholy combination of the two.

Today river cottage won out and I made Chelsea bus from Handbook number 3 ‘Bread’ (by Daniel Stevens) which by the by is another thing I really like about both outfits. Nigella (with her collection of 4000, count ‘em 4000 cookbooks!) frequently credits other cooks with influences coming from all over, and possibly my favourite thing about the River Cottage books are the handbooks. A whole community of people all adding fresh voices and ideas to the brand. ‘Bread’ is another one I’ve taken away for holiday reading and I can testify to the quality of the buns I made today, and the basic bread recipe I’ve made almost enough times to graduate onto something more complicated.

The Blonde and I have a plan to spend a Sunday making bagels – for me this means spending some serious time comparing and contrasting different recipes and if there are any major variations between them we plan to take one each and see what happens, and unless they’re absolutely the same chances are it’ll be Nigella’s on the one hand and Mr Stevens on the other...


  1. WOW - I've alwas wanted to make chelsea buns, but never had the patience to faff. I sort of enjoyed Nigella on Thursday but she does annoy me a bit,

  2. I'm with Verity Hugh wins everytime for me, can't get past Nigella's smugness. Haven't seen anything recent on the TV though.

  3. Verity - I was quite pleased with them - and they aren't really much trouble 10 mins here, 5 there and a bit of resting inbetween - perfect for a morning pottering, the only problem is you need plenty of people to eat them!

    Clover - I really see you as the hugh type with your very own river cottage:)

  4. I do like Nigella, but all the pouting and silk dressing gowns and stuff are a teensy bit irritating. Fabulous cheesecake she made, though!

  5. I love the books, and watch her on tv mostly to shout abuse at the screen and wonder just how curvy she's actually got. The programmes annoy me but in a way I enjoy. Arguably I could get out more.