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As a rule, Nigella Lawson is only too happy to show off her voluptuous figure in low-cut outfits. On a visit to Bondi Beach, however, she went to the opposite extreme. The 51-year-old Domestic Goddess opted for a full cover-up against the late-summer Sydney sun as she splashed in the water with a companion.

Miss Lawson’s outfit resembled a burkini – a three-piece swimsuit designed to preserve the modesty of Muslim women – with a baseball cap beneath the hood.

The explanation was that the fair-skinned star was worried about sunburn. Prompting the question: Why bother going on the beach, then?

Australia’s favourite food blogger, Not Quite Nigella, a.k.a. Lorraine Elliott, comes face to face with her namesake at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival:

There is a classic Nigella moment when she says “I like a bit of brutality in the kitchen” with that gleam in her eye and she leans onto a raw, whole chicken to flatten it slightly to make it easier to cook. Food is about legacy and passing recipes on, and along with this, recipes, traits or style are passed on. She amuses everyone with a story of a woman who made a pot roast and to start she would cut off both ends of the pot roast. When asked why she did this she answered that it was what her own mother had always done so she did it. When they asked her mother why she had done it she said that that was her mother had done. When they asked the grandmother why she had done it she said that the reason why she did it was because her pot was too small to fit the pot roast!

After browning the chicken, she places it in a pot to boil along with celery, and carrots, which brings us to carrot coins. “I find circles of carrots make me depressed,” she says, citing school meals with carrot circles as the possible cause. “But by all means if carrots don’t make you depressed, use them … If you had to be an expert to cook, the human race wouldn’t exist.”

(Source: Business Spectator)

She is the best known female food personality in the world today. The mere mention of her name can cause people to recall, accurately, what she sounds like, how she smiles, and, of course, how she cooks.

You might think it could be unnerving being Queen of Gastroporn Nigella Lawson and constantly having your sensual charms – and curves – discussed alongside your body of work. But Lawson says that she can’t control how people perceive her and that ”it’s wrong to get into a state about it”.

She says the suggestion that the way she presents herself in front of the television is carefully thought about is simply false. ”I don’t construct a personality, but I certainly think the personality that is ascribed to me is not my personality,” she says. ”That’s a projection of other people, but also to do with the particular, strange force television has.”

Her trademark lascivious tone, for example, is unintentional. ”When I am talking to camera … I mean, I love my crew and I have had them forever so I am very very close to them … I know that I am quite an intense person and I know that I am being quite intimate. To me, I am not being remotely coquettish.”

Men and their egos are often the source of this misinterpretation, she suggests. ”One of the things I find quite endearing about men is that they do seem to have a certain sort of confidence and they sort of think anyone is flirting with them.”

Lawson is in Australia for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, of which she is the star attraction.

Here to represent a key festival theme, Women of the Kitchen, Lawson reflects on the women who inspired her. ”My mother was quite spontaneous, quite impatient, and really knew how to trust her own palate. I think people really underestimate how important that is,” she says. ”Maybe because cooking has been, in the large part, taken over by professionals, I think technique has been overstressed and actually what cooking is, is about trusting your instincts and about trusting your palate to know what tastes good.”

After graduating from Oxford University, Lawson worked as a literary journalist and opinion page columnist before releasing her first cookbook, How to Eat, which became a bestseller. Her first television series, Nigella Bites, became an incredible success and soon she was known as a woman who loves food and doesn’t torment herself dieting.

”I am always thinking about what my eating opportunities are, and what I can manage to get in,” she says.

(Source: Sydney Morning Herald)

The Australian conductor Sir Charles Mackerras, who led the opening concert at the Sydney Opera House and was the first non-Briton to lead the Last Night of the Proms, has died in London at the age of 84.

Charles Mackerras was born in the US and raised in Australia before coming to England to study music.

Though internationally acclaimed, he disdained stardom and missed out on the plum post at Covent Garden.

He had become maybe my favourite conductor over the last few years. What a great man – great conductor, great musicologist, great reader and lover of music, great arranger too (Pineapple Poll). This is really sad news. He was the one conductor among the current generation of 80-somethings I was hoping would live longest; sorry, Haitink, Harnoncourt, etc. Not least because he was due to perform Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, Mozart’s 40th and Schubert’s 4th in London this year – concerts which, since I’m moving to London, I was expecting to be the best nights of my year.

I don’t think I ever heard a recording of his that was not good, whether it was 18th 19th or 20th Century – he seemed to bring a fresh and exciting and always musically rewarding interpretation to the works he conducted.

It is very sad news, but he had a long and full life and left behind a great recorded legacy; you can’t ask for much more than that.

I recall an excellent concert at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester nearly ten years ago, where Sir Charles conducted Mahler’s Sixth Symphony with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. This was issued on CD with the BBC Music Magazine about a year later and I recalled how special and heartfelt the performance was. It is this, which I am spinning now, preparing for Mahler’s Eighth Symphony from the BBC Proms tonight. Great memories, great performance, very sad loss.

R.I.P. Alan Charles MacLaurin Mackerras, conductor, born 17 November 1925; died 14 July 2010

Related:

The modest maestro

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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