Thursday 30th May 3013 - by Kyl Chhatwal
So says Nigella Lawson, British food writer and TV host in a recent interview on the Canadian Broadcast Company (CBC)’s radio program, Q.
Lawson’s point is that Italian cuisine is not in any way unified: that Italy boasts a disparate collection of regional cuisines, each with a different character—everything from Florentine, to Roman, to Sicilian, to Piemontese cuisine (the list goes on).
Ms. Lawson is up front and unapologetic about the extent to which Italian cuisine—whatever that means—has influenced her own ideas about food. She is confident and philosophic about how Italy has impacted the world’s understanding and appreciation of food. “Ever since the Roman Empire this is first time the Italians have colonized the world so effectively,” she remarks early in the Q interview; exaggerating, yes, but nonetheless alluding to the very real way Italy has made a successful cultural export of eating well.
The dark-haired, dark-eyed, Italian-looking Lawson—she is actually Jewish—seems like the perfect champion for the Italian way of life. She has not been without her critics, however, who have attacked her sensuous approach to cooking, dubbing her “the Queen of food porn.”
But listening to Lawson speak one quickly realizes she’s more self-aware than her critics give her credit for. If she sells a fantasy about Italy, she is at least up front about it, pointing out that as a British woman she can only offer an outsider’s interpretation of Italian food and culture.
And on the subject of authenticity—that modern anxiety—she wisely observes that “the point about cooking is that it is personal, and that it evolves.”
Here is the full interview with Nigella Lawson on the televised version of Q.