You can call us foodies, gourmets or gluttons, but for some people a five-star meal can be just as good as a roll in the hay. And the Food Network, with all of its glorious offerings, from Anna to Ina, from Iron Chef to Tasty Travels, is a smorgasbord of culinary pornography delivered directly into your living room.
I get hunger pangs watching the Barefoot Contessa whip up a double chocolate glaze for her raspberry pavlova. And a sense of envy bubbles up inside me whenever I see Giada De Laurentiis whip out her KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment. My mouth starts to water as Laura Calder pulls the beef bourguignon out of the oven. As I said, I appreciate a good chef.
But when I watch Nigella Express, I get a tingly feeling, which, for me, is usually synonymous with a fantasy of male rugby players in a locker room shower. Yes, readers -- Nigella Lawson makes me hot.
For a gay man, this could be the type of thing that turns your entire world upside down. In high school I mastered the faux attraction to Angelina Jolie, developed a false affinity to Coors, Maxim and WWF (as it was at the time), and gave whatever food-related euphemism you prefer for the female downstairs a chance. Now out and in my twenties, I was sent reeling by my body’s response to Nigella.
But Nigella is, truly, the type of woman who could turn a gay man straight. She possesses the sensual curves and body of a fifties pin-up -- breasts, hips and everything else. She is undeniably a woman who eats her own delicious heavy-cream-unsalted-butter-flavour-filled-food. And she’ll be the first to tell her viewers not to come to her for diet tips.
The fact that she’s not a size-zero stick figure, unlike some of her alien-like counterparts (cough… Giada… cough…), is emphasized by her choice of clothing. Instead of hiding her assets under oversized shirts or billowy layers, she wears tight, curve-hugging jeans, and sweaters that emphasize her waist and ample chest. I often find myself wondering how her unfastened cardigans can stay so perfectly in place as she whisks, chops, stirs and dices.
Oh, and she’s more than just a pretty face. Nigella’s philosophy on food is the ultimate turn-on. Cooking should be gratifying. Food should be savoured. Flavours should be played with. Textures should be discovered. Eating should be a sensual, gratifying experience. Whether this means spending days preparing for a feast with friends, or minutes in the kitchen whipping up a soothing cup of hot chocolate, Nigella wants us to enjoy food for all it has to offer.
Her philosophy is manifest in her method of cooking. She doesn’t just beat an egg; she coaxes the sunny yellow yolk and thick stringy white from its shell, gingerly rests her hand on the side of the mixing bowl, and passionately whips the egg until it meets her approval. Nigella touches her food -- she purposely puts her fingers in the icing, she lets fruit juices run down her arms, and she massages cuts of meat without the slightest hesitation. As she explains the process of making triple chocolate brownies, she encourages her viewers to “lovingly -- tenderly -- allow the tiny white chocolate morsels to sink to the depths of the deep, dark, chocolate batter.” It is normally right about this time during her show that I have to cross my legs.
Of course, her philosophy is also behind the way she eats. With Nigella, you know that every single bite she takes is a pleasure. You can see her excitement building as she dives into her maple-glazed cocktail sausages before her guests even arrive. You know that she has reached a state of bliss when she uses her hands to ravenously devour a slice of cherry cheesecake. Unlike the tacitly off-limits bedside table drawer of most adults, Nigella’s contains a jar of hot mustard and a saltshaker, at the ready for a late-night rendezvous with the kitchen fridge. There is really no question about it -- Nigella knows how to turn a guy on.
Which brings me back to my days of Angelina, Coors, Maxim and WWF. Could it be that all this time I have actually been attracted to women? Maybe all I needed this whole time was to meet the right girl -- one with a talent for making crisp, chewy meringues and tender, moist turkey breast. I wonder…
Thankfully, I don’t have to wonder for long. Up next after Nigella Express is Good Deal with Dave Lieberman . He is in his late twenties, tall and athletic, with a disarming smile. Is that pizza he’s making? Maybe I’ve found a star for both my kitchen and locker room fantasies. Mmm… he could whip my meringues any time!
© 2008 Will Parker; licensee (Cult)ure Magazine.
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