Monday, October 18, 2010

Nigella Lawson: I exploded the oven, got raided by police

Nigella Lawson, the television cook, has disclosed that seven "secret servicemen" burst into her kitchen when she was cooking for Salman Rushdie, the author, and the oven exploded.

She said the close protection officers guarding Mr Rushdie reacted to the noise and suggested they assumed that a bomb had gone off.

Instead, a fault on the cooker had caused it to crack and rapidly burst, leaving the roasting lamb inside destroyed but little other damage.

Lawson did not reveal when the incident happened, other than to say that at the time, the Booker Prize-winning author was still under a "fatwa" - a death threat - issued in 1989 by the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran for what was perceived to be an irreverent section of his book, The Satanic Verses.

He spent nine years accompanied by close protection police officers trying to avoid the attention of anyone who might be tempted to kill him for the £1.5million reward on offer.

During that time, the Japanese translator of his book was killed and both the Italian translator and the Norwegian publisher wounded.

The cook and the author have been friends for many years and Mr Rushdie, who has been married four times, counts many famous women among his closest confidantes, including Dannii and Kylie Minogue, the singers, Kathy Lette, the comedienne, Mariella Frostrup, the broadcaster, and Marie Helvin, the model.

Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, she described the incident with the policemen, saying: "I was roasting lamb when the oven exploded.

"Suddenly seven secret servicemen ran into the kitchen. I was standing there like something out of 'I Love Lucy' [the US television show] with black patches on my cheeks. The lamb was ruined."

The cook also disclosed that she had hated eating as a child: "For me, mealtimes were hugely uncomfortable. I was not an eater but I was brought up in the old fashioned way of many hundreds of years ago!

"When I was a child if you didn't eat your food it would be kept in front of you till you finished it - and if you didn't finish it, it would be brought back at the next meal, cold. I loathed it.

"I just didn't like eating. It was one long power struggle."

"When I was a child the world was a totalitarian state run by adults - and now that I'm an adult the world is a totalitarian state run by children!"

She also told the audience of around 1,000 people that she was far from a domestic goddess - as she is known on television - because she "can't iron. I never brush my hair at the sides and back."

"On the other hand, I never had any desire to be perfect."

She also recounted her cookery failures, including taking a chicken from the oven "completely raw because the timer had not turned on" and said "I've lost count of the times I've forgotten something and not served it. Often people have all gone when I discover I've forgotten to take the salad out."

The cook and her husband, Charles Saatchi, are currently in dispute with some neighbours after Mr Saatchi had some scaffolding removed from their property and they claimed a £50,000 set of Italian bathroom tiles were damaged in the process.

Source: Andy Bloxham,

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