Christmas with Nigella - IT'S THE SPICE OF LIFE!
New Zealand Woman's Weekly|December 14, 2020
THE CELEBRITY CHEF OPENS UP ABOUT HER ANXIETY, GETTING FIT AND WHY THE SEASON IS SO IMPORTANT
NATALIE WHITTLE

If you regularly watch Nigella Lawson on screen, whether adding the finishing touches to her mouth-watering mince pies or icing her impeccable looking Yule log, you’ll be familiar with her unflappable nature. When we catch up with her, we see it in full effect: she arrives well prepared with her own packed lunch, a flask of hot tea and some lemon sherbets “in case of a sugar low”.

When she’s quizzed on Christmas dinner advice, Nigella has all the answers. Dry turkey? Soak it overnight, she advises. Perfect potatoes? Add semolina and use goose fat. Fussy eaters? She ignores them… unless they’re staying for two weeks, of course!

But when we catch up on Zoom a few weeks later, we discover a more vulnerable side to Nigella.

The celebrity chef has had many losses to overcome – she was a young woman when her mother and younger sister both died of cancer. Later, she had to deal with the loss of her husband, British journalist John Diamond, to throat cancer when their children were aged seven and four.

Daughter Cosima, now 26, and son Bruno, 24, have both left home, and Nigella lives alone in West London.

Nigella’s reflective about those she’s lost – “they’re always in your head and in your bloodstream”, she says – but also looks to the future with passion and energy, and says that turning 60 this year has been a positive milestone in so many ways.

Nigella has begun her new decade by writing another book, Cook, Eat, Repeat, an enticing collection of recipes combined with essays about food, and has filmed a tie-in TV series for the BBC.

She has also kick-started a new fitness regime and discovered the joys of a daily foot soak! Here, she shares why, despite life’s challenges, she believes there is still so much to celebrate...

Congratulations on turning 60. Are you where you thought you’d be at this age?

I’m not a planner – apart from when it comes to food! But to be completely honest, I’ve never been able to take for granted that I’d be alive by this age. My mother died at 48 and my sister at 32. And John at 47. So, even if I were the sort of person who planned ahead, I don’t think I would have seen myself here.

What is your attitude to ageing?

I kind of think you can’t do anything about it, so why complain? I also know what the alternative is, so it feels wrong when you’ve been surrounded by people who have died young to say, “My hair is awful, I’ve got to have the roots done,” or, “My hands look like lizards.” So I don’t dwell on it. As long as you’re healthy, that really is the most important thing.

So you feel positive about it?

Definitely. In many ways, getting older frees you quite a bit. It’s easier to do what you want. And I’d like to think you get less judgmental, too, which is important.

Have you done something surprising since turning 60?

I exercise more, which is a big surprise to me! During lockdown, I didn’t go out at all and I’m never going to diet, so I needed to do something. I’ve done yoga for a long time, but I added in stretching exercises and weights. And I feel so much stronger and healthier now. It’s also helped my back pain, which I’ve had since I was in a car crash when I was 19. It’s funny because if you’d said to me when I was younger that I was going to be doing an hour’s exercise six times a week (when possible), I’d have thought you were mad. But I love it.

What else makes you feel good in your own skin?

It sounds really awful, but being alone. Is that a terrible thing to say? I do feel I need more and more time by myself to recharge in quiet. When I was younger, I didn’t like being by myself, but now I really can’t cope unless I have quite a lot of alone time. I love the silence of pottering about or just lying down.

This has been such a challenging year for everyone. How have you stayed positive?

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