It's said that some people are motivated by money, some by love, and some by recognition. I love prizes. It doesn't even really matter what the prize is; I just love winning something.
When I was told that I had won the recipe contest I was thrilled that I had won. After all, a free cookbook is a free cookbook. That I got to get it personally signed was not a big deal to me.
The day of the book signing my husband, two little kids and I arrived about 20 minutes early and I was puzzled to see that the lower floor of the bookstore where the signing was to take place was filled with people. What was the crowd for? Surely they weren't all there to buy a cookbook and get it signed.
The source of my mystification? I'd never really heard of Nigella Lawson. I might have looked at one of her cookbooks in the library and seen some of her recipes blogged, but to me she was someone who wrote cookbooks. Sound strange? Here's the explanation. We are possibly the last family in the country to not have cable television. Don't need it, don't want it. But this means that I'm woefully out of touch with the celebrechef culture. No Food Network. No "Bam!" No Italian cleavage. And no Nigella.
But once Nigella was introduced and began to speak, I got it. I understood the crowd who adored her. First of all, she's gorgeous. She looks like a 1950's movie star. And she's got a beautiful speaking voice. And she's articulate and funny. Oh, and she does some cooking, too.
I loved how she championed the home cook, saying that chefs were making it an intimidating thing to put dinner on the table. She did a Q & A and told her favorite books (David Copperfield and Persuasion), related some anecdotes from her show, and talked about her writing schedule. I thought something her late husband told her was profound - that the ritual of putting off writing is part of the writing process. It allows thoughts to percolate so that when you sit down to write everything flows.
After she spoke the bookstore had the three contest winners come up and we all got swag. Not just a whisk or something, but seriously good swag! Check out the pictures below to see what treats I got to bring home. My son was so excited that I got a prize with a bow; he wanted to open it right away.
The winners then got to be at the head of the line to get our books signed. Nigella was very gracious and kind as she signed, asking which recipe was mine and commenting on it. I can see why people love her.
My daughter and I pored over the cookbook together. I let her pick what I'm going to make first from it (I'm not telling, except to say that it's pink). It's starting to bristle with bookmarks, just like all my favorite cookbooks.
This is my first Nigella cookbook, but I doubt it will be my last!