Anyone who has ever heard Nigella Lawson describe food in her unmistakable sultry accent knows that she’s a Brit, through and through. But in the kitchen, her style has always leaned Italian. “It was when I was sixteen or seventeen that I decided to be Italian,” Nigella explains in the introduction to her ninth cookbook, Nigellissima. “I simply felt drawn to it, to Italy.”
I hear you, Nigella. Though I’m zero-percent Italian by birth, I’ve been an infatuated Italophile for as long as I can remember. After learning to cook the Italian way during my semester abroad in Rome, I, too, decided to be Italian. Most of what comes out of my kitchen today reflects my adopted heritage.
During her gap year in Florence, Nigella worked as a chambermaid at a family-run pensione and spent most of her free time in the kitchen with Nonna, an Italian grandmother “out of central casting.” Nigella’s recipes in Nigellissima are inspired by the classic techniques used by generations of Italian grandmothers, but she makes no claims of authenticity. The cookbook’s pastas, main dishes, vegetables and sweets all encompass her own personal spin on Italian food.