Cheesy dog food and Nutella pie: is Nigella having a laugh?
NIGELLA – SO FAMOUS she doesn’t need a surname – is back with a new cookery series. Nigellissima (BBC Two, Monday) is about Italian food “the express way”, as she purrs at random intervals. It’s shot in her kitchen, or maybe not: in a previous series we thought it was her home, but it turned out to be a set. That made the scenes of her in her jammies rummaging in the fridge for a midnight feast all the more weird. But this kitchen is very nice and has no cupboard doors; instead there are great big shelves for her crockery, which means greasy plates and bowls now that she’s taken to deep-frying.
In the first episode she cooked steak and chips – she called it Tuscan something or other – followed by a revolting invention called “meatzza” that involved replacing a pizza-dough base with flattened mince. It looked like cheesy dog food. Dessert was an artery-clogging cheesecake made with a jar of Nutella.
She kept saying her dishes weren’t authentic and that a real Italian wouldn’t dream of eating them. Quite peculiar for an Italian food programme, but then I think she’s having a laugh, satirising the food-show genre. And if you look at it that way, it’s genius. She stands at the hob working her Ava Gardner look in a little black dress, high heels, bouffy hair and dramatic eyeliner – not an apron, oven glove or flushed face in sight – and she drops the odd Italian word into the instructions, which is funny after a while. (Sale is salt. Who knew?)
Her research for a classic Sicilian dish involved putting on her glasses and thumbing through a stack of cookbooks. Two silent teenagers appeared and disappeared just as quickly, the family scene being a staple of food programmes.
And she smiled in a Stepford-wife way as she stirred and gave some fanciful instructions. “You don’t have to add fresh oregano, but if you have it, it would be madness not to.” And she has to be having a laugh with “One taste and it’s kapow”. A satirist couldn’t write a better script.
HOW HAS NOBODY been killed on Hill 16 in Croke Park? Without getting all health and safety on it, the archive footage from the 1970s in the thoroughly entertaining Cnoc 16 (TG4, Sunday) was frightening: thousands of excitable people jammed on to the famous terrace with vicious barbed wire keeping them in.
The documentary traced the history of the Hill back to when it was built and called Hill 60 after the battle at Gallipoli in which many Dubliners fought.
It jarred with the GAA that a stand was named after a British military encounter in Turkey, and so in the 1930s it was renamed Hill 16. A story then took hold, according to the historian Tim Carey, that it was built on the rubble from the GPO in 1916, so when the stadium was redeveloped archaeologists were on hand to find bullets and bits of the building. A good yarn spoiled by the fact the Hill was built in 1915.
Shane Tobin’s perfectly paced and colourful documentary captured the unique tribalism of the GAA – where opposing county followers can be side by side in the stadium – and the deep attachment Dublin fans have for the Hill. “It’s like a 16th man,” said one of the Dublin football team.