Vogue Festival: Nigella Lawson – Women and food, or women and guilt

Above: Kirsty Young chats with Nigella Lawson

The relationship we have with food, extends to our relationship with fashion and huge pressures we feel to look good. Dressed in film-noir figure hugging black and finished with the most eye-dazzling ruby-red shoe wedges, the delicious Nigella Lawson took to the stage on the opening day of the Vogue Festival and chatted with Kirsty Young. Kirsty was equally stunning in a desirable floor length silk or chiffon floaty maxi in this season’s hot glamazon print.

Today, there is no doubt that Nigella looks as delicious as her food. Two of my guilty pleasures on the one stage – Nigella Lawson’s flourless torte, with Sunday morning’s Desert Island Discs with Kirsty Young. Today’s discussion is about ‘Women and Food’.

The relationship between women and food is more often than not a difficult and negative one. Women are pressured into looking good, and almost made to feel guilty when they enjoy their food.

I remember being in a cafe ordering coffee when I was 8 months pregnant, and a man commenting “who ate all the pies”. It broke my heart, and brought home the pressure to be thin and beautiful, and I couldn’t believe that even when pregnant I couldn’t escape the cruelty of some people.

I love food, and after years of getting my coeliac disease under control, I’ve fallen back in love with food.

Nigella said, “the pleasure of food is with the senses, if you’re not in the right frame of mind, then it has the opposite effect.”

While my own mother is a fantastic cook, I don’t feel she’s a good eater, and her  relationship with food is questionable. So we come back to the ‘mother’ which had been a prominent theme of today’s Festival.

If we have a slice of cake, do we skip dinner?
If we have a big lunch, do we eat a light supper, or not at all?

If you are hungry and you want to eat, then do it, but as I type I even find a pang of guilt! Do I want the cookie jar or the size 6 jeans? (famously quoted by Elizabeth Hurley).

Post baby I’m back in my size 8s, but I have a new relationship with food. I eat because I enjoy eating, and I exercise because it’s my time, and feel I have a good balance. I can even take a bite of a bar of chocolate and put it in my handbag without worrying about having to finish the lot.

So, what’s in Nigella’s handbag? I’m guessing a secret mix of herbs and spices. Perhaps a pinch of salt, cocoa and sugar for added je ne sais crois to a meal when dining out. What do you think Nigella never leaves the home without?

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3 thoughts on “Vogue Festival: Nigella Lawson – Women and food, or women and guilt

  1. Fab fab post from a brilliant writer.

    This is something I’ve always had an interest in (interest? Wrong word, but I have baby brain – sorry!) as I’ve suffered on and off with an eating disorder for years. I’d never really been able to have a good relationship with food – I would deliberately skip meals if something ‘bad’ touched my lips, or I’d cut out whole food groups and obsessively exercise.

    Yet now I’m pregnant, I’m finally embracing food and eating better. I LOVE my new curves and, honestly, they make me feel sexy and womanly! I still exercise often, but I want to stay fit. And if that means I can eat a cake (sometimes even a whole cake) guilt-free, then so be it!

    Here’s hoping it’s the start of a new attitude to food 🙂 x

    1. You are such a darling. We found out direct from Nigella that she carries a tube of Colemans in her bag. I knew there must have been something to jazz up her food when out and about. She oozes glamour. x

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