Grace Dent on TV: Nigellissima, BBC2

I love Nigella's naughty twinkle, but I'm not sure I'll get away with serving my friends a meatzza

Nigella Lawson isn't a cook, she's more of a lifestyle choice. Nigella's new series of quasi-Italian cuisine, featuring her divine presence coating fusilli lunghi in unctuous sauces, twinkling naughtily, does little to make me wish to distance myself from this cult.

Nigella can shove capers and sultanas in a hand-blender then chuck it at pasta and, lo, seven well-mannered chums will pop by off the cuff, one of whom is blowing a pot of bubbles, another with a massive bag of tealights, one with a baby who never screams or poos, and they'll eat the sultana/caper thing compliantly and be wholly sated.

Nigellissima and the accompanying book will keep me diverted during autumn until I can reach for Nigella Christmas and finger pages of gingerbread muffins and nibbly finger-foods I'll never make for parties I'll never have. Because let's face it, having parties outside of Nigella-world is actually just an excuse for people to invade your home, announce strong-held beliefs that capers don't go with sultanas, break your toilet light switch, infuriate folk from your other social circles you've tried so dearly before to keep separate and then wee in next door's bush on the way home. I watched episode one of Nigellissima twice over on iPlayer, in a darkened bedroom, under a duvet and found Nigella's world to be a far more jocund place than my own. Here she is, our saviour: slinkier yet still gorgeously undulant, more sumptuous than ever-known, velour-wrapped, elegantly ebullient.

Nigella's life, I have read in her books, has fine structure. Every calendar event and occasion has a traditional cake, stew or pie she pulls from mid-air. Nigella cooks and cooks through abject grief and pregnancies, through hangovers, and house-moves, through all genres of life-tremors. Those times when transferring a Heinz soup into a Pyrex jug and pressing "express" on the microwave keypad seems like an arduous head-bend; this is when Nigella walks calmly to her American double-fronted refrigerator and snips frozen pigs' ears with ergonomic kitchen scissors into passata then serves them on imported gnocchi and Parmesan grated on a teensy-tiny grater. The belief in Nigella and the church of her thought keeps me going. It keeps me buying salt pigs and tiny little graters. There are no days when Nigella feels dour and a bit constipated and feels one of those invisible ball-bearing-under-the-skin spots beside her nose and there's nothing in the fridge except an antique potato with prettier eyes than your own. Nigella's friends all get along marvellously and not one person screams, "will you give OVER with that pissing pot of bubbles, grow up, you're 38!"

And Nigella's family are bo-ho and open-minded and indulge her creative vision and say, "ooh mummy, yes, pig steeped in Coca-Cola, I'll have some", unlike the time I once boldly served my father a fried egg atop a plate of bubble and squeak, in a gastro-pub style, and he was so alarmed and discombobulated he needed to be led to a quiet room with a Columbo double-bill.

I'd like to try some of the Nigellissima recipes in the real world merely to harvest reaction. "Everyone over to mine for meatzza," I'd cry, "It's pizza without the bread, just meat."

"Um, why can't we have the bread bit?" some feisty soul might ask. "I liked the bread. It gives the toppings something to lounge about on. It's a design classic."

"No, I'd say, just meatzza, which I will strew with basil.' To strew is a not a verb I generally used until Nigellissima came along, now I'm strewing willy-nilly. "Let me strew this Word document with vocabulary," I announced with an airy hand wave and icing sugar in my hairline.

Other Nigellissima creations in episode one included "chips" (the twist being the fat was cold when the spuds were added) and "eggs in purgatory" which, after many rewinds of the iPlayer, I uncovered to be huevos rancheros with a name-change. Apparently the only way to eat this is standing by the hob dipping bread in it, which to be frank is where I'd eat all my meals if my house was constantly full of random babies and people playing piccolos and friends leafing through photo-albums chuntering "rhubarb, rhubarb" and that berk with the bubbles.

Of course, one of the most wonderful thing about Nigellissima is how wickedly it rankles Italian-cuisine buffs and fellow chefs. These people see Nigella's latest Italian incarnation to be as authentic as those Satanic spongy puppets that flog Dolmio. Not only does Nigella keep underlining that her Italian food isn't strictly purist, she clearly doesn't give a stuff. Three cheers for her unabashed chutzpah. I've been to Italy several times via powers of telly with Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo, and to be honest, I'd rather stay in Britain and live la dolce vita Nigella.

Grace's marmalade dropper

Being Liverpool. Channel 5. The Liverpool team attempt yoga to restore balance and equilibrium and find standing on one foot challenging. Lovely, nosey access to Steven Gerrard's house too.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century