Emma Bartley’s ongoing struggle to fit into her jeans. This week: how does the TV cook stay so slim?
Last night I watched a bit of Lorraine Pascale’s cookery show. As food porn, it’s wonderful. The woman can really cook. But… are you thinking what I’m thinking?
If you haven’t seen Home Cooking Made Easy, it’s an incredibly tactile programme, cleverly made so that you really feel as if you’re there with the former model (I thought she was the first black cover girl for ELLE, but Wikipedia says she was the first black British model on the cover of US ELLE. Thanks, Wikipedia). Tall and skinny, she’s shown sitting hunched on some steps, smiling and chatting to the camera. Later, she walks down a chi-chi street with a beautifully sunny park behind her. Then she’s shown driving her neat new car.
This is all interspersed with shots of delicious carbohydrates and fats. We see fresh pasta being made – Pascale’s fingers hang up strands of tagliatelle, stroking the length of it. A shot of rich brownie mixture being poured into a tin cuts away to a shot of neatly piled cubes of cake I can almost feel in my mouth. A step-by-step shows an ambitious bombe made by lining a basin with swirls of Swiss roll and filling it with coffee ice cream. Or it could be a hazelnut ice cream. I can’t say for sure - the sound is off.
Why? Because I’m on a treadmill, watching this at the gym and listening to loud, upbeat pop music. Mostly, therefore, what I was thinking as I watched one of Britain’s thinnest women fondle fronds of pasta was: “Breathe in, breathe out, I’m so bored, just another minute, I hate running,” etc.
But I was also thinking: “Come ON! This does not look like a woman who eats pasta!”
Is it just me? No doubt Lorraine Pascale has been billed as the new Nigella Lawson. All these tactile shots of dark, soft brown sugar dropping into bubbling golden butter, stirred with sensually handled wooden spoon… But Nigella looked as if she ate what she cooked. Lorraine really doesn’t. I have to conclude that she just has marvellous genes, because I watched her curling up on a sofa with a slice of cake and a fork, so unless the audio that went with it was “In ten minutes’ time, I’ll be throwing this up”, she has eaten at least one forkful of cake in her entire life.
(Wouldn’t that be great, though? If the voiceover of the ice cream mixture being poured into the cake-lined basin was the echoey sound of her puking? I suspect, however, that this isn’t the line the BBC have gone for. They’ve gone for, “look at this skinny person who doesn’t have any issues with food at all, just a superfast metabolism and a God-given iron ability to control her portion size.")
So, what if you’re naturally a Nigella? What if, as a friend of mine says, “the fat wants you”? Because the fat wants me. It’s not that I’m gorging myself on ready meals and takeaways. I try to eat healthily, but I eat out at least couple of nights a week, and I probably have some kind of sweet thing every day, and I drink a fair amount, and then there’s the weekend roasts, and indeed toast. I’m in the gym three times a week and I cycle to work, so I’m not fat. I’m just a liiittle bit bigger than I’d like.
This blog is therefore titled Size 13. It’s about being just a few pounds heavier than you should be. It’s about that little bit of fat that goes over your jeans when you sit down. It’s about a love affair with pasta and brownies.
There won’t be any extreme diets, and there’s unlikely to be any dramatic weight loss: my plan is just to try out new and different methods of shifting that half-a-size-worth of excess padding. The challenge will be to find methods that might work for Nigella – because I’m never going to look like Lorraine.