Monday’s TV: Christmas has never looked so good

December 12, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

NIGELLA’S CHRISTMAS KITCHEN, BBC Two, Monday 15th December, 8.30pm Alert Me

The queen of food porn is back. For four consecutive days, BBC is allowing us to gorge on seductively licked spoons, and dreamily voiced recipes in Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen.
Nigella is on good form, making little concession to credit crunch cooking and showing off her frozen ostriches (“from my rare meats phase. Short-lived, I have to say”) and chicken necks.
Nigella remains a stalwart of luxury, having us drool over her lychee infused martinis to her pomegranate relish with the oblivious charm of a very rich and quite beautiful woman. But after so long, she seems to have almost become a caricature of herself in her self-aware flirtatiousness. It ceases to be coquettish and develops into something quite brash and off-putting, particularly combined with the come hither soft jazz soundtrack.
That said, her recipes have lost none of their appeal. She is refreshing in her disregard for some of the ethical issues surrounding food without sacrificing integrity or quality. Nigella strikes a comfortable middle ground between the ardent spluttering sincerity of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and the cynicism of Delia’s most recent fast food reincarnation. She happily admits that a lot of foods are as good reheated as first time round, and as always uses enough butter to make your heart skip a beat.
The dinner parties scenes are unavoidably cringe-making, particularly in how she covers all her bases with the token ethnic minorities. It may be that I’m becoming a terrible sceptical hack, but it seems a little unlikely that the chosen guests are exactly representative of Nigella’s comfortable upper-middle-class Notting Hill friends.
All in all, she remains one of the best TV cooks because of her unflinching dedication to delicious flavours and perfect velvet textures, but her personality obstructs the watcher’s ability to really appreciate the food. Pity, that.

By Chris Harding