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Nigella Lawson: ‘I can be ecstatically happy with just bread and cheese’

In an exchange of emails for Observer Food Monthly’s 20th anniversary, the broadcaster and writer explains how Twitter helped her through lockdown and what she eats on a night off

What were you doing 20 years ago this month?
I’m afraid I have only a rather muddled memory of that time. My husband, John Diamond, who’d had his cancer diagnosed in March 1997, had died in March 2001, and consequently all I can remember of this time 20 years ago, is feeling dazed, and mainlining bagels and cream cheese from Panzer’s. I know I’d been filming (and this must have been for the second series of Nigella Bites) as I had – ridiculous as it now seems – just a week off in the middle of it, and my one acute memory is feeling painfully aware that the herbs we had back of shot when John had died were still alive and flourishing when I resumed. I suspect most of April, once the series had been finished, was spent taking the children, who were then four and six, to school then going back under the duvet until it was time to collect them.

What were you mostly cooking then?
I dare say none of us is impervious to fads and fashion, but my cooking seems to change mostly according to where I am in my life, and at that time I remember rolling endless meatballs – or rather, getting my children to do so, their small hands perfectly suited to the job. The pasta machine, a basic hand-cranked model, was often clamped to the kitchen table, too. My kids used to love turning the handle. Makes me feel I should reclaim it from the back of the cupboard and bring it into play again, even if I have to turn the handle myself!

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