Nigella Lawson, the Second Time Around
Plus: The best grain of them all, nuclear plant dangers, and food pesticide ratings
Kate is on vacation this week, and we’re trying to let her take an actual vacation, so we thought it’d be fun to revisit our very first episode — almost two years ago now — of Food with Mark Bittman, which kicked the show off in a pretty great way, considering the universal appeal of our guest, Nigella Lawson.
I’ve known Nigella for 20 years, maybe longer; we were co-columnists at the Times for a bit. There are few people who talk more articulately about home cooking than her. When I originally interviewed her for this episode, she had a new book out called Cook, Eat, Repeat; we talked about that, of course, and we talked about what we ate like during early Covid (we were just barely a year in at that point), and we talked about the terms “guilty pleasures” and “celebrity chef,” both of which are pretty interesting.
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THIS WEEK’S MARKSISMS
THE GRAIN THAT’S GOT IT ALL
I was sick with food poisoning, of all things (not from my cooking, mind you) for part of this week, so my cooking took a bit of a hit. Early in the week, I was reminded of pasta with lentils, and recalled that until meat became the dominant form of protein in wealthy countries, almost everyone used some form of grain as a vehicle for some form of protein. Pasta with lentils, a classic example of this, should be in more repertoires.
I thought about this again when I got my hands on some Koda Farms rice, and made a little stir-fry with that and garlic, chile, eggplant, and fish. And how, when I was growing up, our grain staples, if they really qualified as either of those, were breakfast cereal, a paradigm of junk food, and white bread, another P. of J.F. Spaghetti was overcooked, and served with meatballs; rice was Minute Rice and, around 1963, when Rice-A-Roni made its first appearance (in our house at least) it was a revelation: Rice with flavor!
There was the occasional oatmeal, yes, and even Wheatena (which is essentially bulgur), but 90% of our grains were white bread and, like, Sugar Pops.