The lore according to Nigella

Last updated 15:03 12/03/2011
Nigella Lawson
NIGELLA LAWSON: The star attraction at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

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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 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 Melbourne for the 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.

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While in town she is trying to squeeze in as many restaurant visits as she can. On the list: Gingerboy, Da Noi, Cutler &Co (she's already visited Giuseppe Arnaldo & Sons and Donovans).

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

- The Age

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