This week on the Eater Upsell podcast, we talk to cookbook author, TV star, and former restaurant critic Nigella Lawson, who just published a new book At My Table. Lawson discusses her long career in television, her thoughts on restaurant criticism today, why she needed to get out of the op-ed writing world, and her feelings on long tasting menus (“I’d rather have ground glass rubbed in my face.”).
Some choice quotes:
- On restaurant criticism: “People are insecure. No one likes to be criticized. It’s quite normal not to like it and I don’t like that bullying criticism, which is there to make the chef and everyone who works in the restaurant feel bad about themselves. But, I think you can say if you don’t think that a particular flavor combination works. I feel now, especially because when I go to restaurants ... the chef has decided to pair this pork chop with a bit of elderflower or diced plantain, I feel like saying, ‘And why? Like for a dare?’ Because I do think sometimes the pressure to come up with something new is not conducive to good food. That’s where I think a home cook has the edge.”
- On the secrets to cooking: “I always say to people when I talk to them, ‘Look, there are two basic ingredients in cooking: time and money.’ If you have not much money, you gotta spend a lot of time, and if you’ve got very expensive ingredients, then you don’t spend much time.”
- On tasting menus: “I’d rather have ground glass rubbed in my face. I really, really want to cry when I think I’m going to go and someone’s going to tell me what to eat for that long. I don’t think I could do it anymore ... Again, it goes back to are people really talented or not? A lot of people are just copying those who are talented and so, their tasting menu is not very wonderful.”
- On what drives her: “Broadly speaking, I think people are either goal-oriented or fear-driven and I’m definitely fear-driven. I don’t have an idea of where I want to go, I’m just frightened about not being able to do something well.”