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Nigella Lawson Discusses New Book, “Cook, Eat, Repeat: Ingredients, Recipes, and Stories” at Barclay

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British cookbook author Nigella Lawson came to the Irvine Barclay Theater to talk about her latest book “Cook, Eat, Repeat: Ingredients, Recipes, and Stories” as a part of her North American Theater Tour, “An Evening with Nigella Lawson,” on Nov. 26. 

Lawson was joined onstage by Evan Kleiman of KCRW 89.9 FM, who moderated questions throughout the night. Kleiman presented questions of her own, as well as questions submitted by the audience in advance. 

The night opened with Lawson reading part of the introduction of “Cook, Eat, Repeat.” She wrote the book during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown and it was released in the winter of that same year. Lawson was forced to cancel the originally scheduled book tour last year due to the pandemic, and mainly promoted it over the phone and through Zoom.

“I felt that people were suddenly having to cook a lot, both [with and] without easy access to the shops,” Lawson said. “I felt like I had to be on duty and answer questions online — it provided me with this sense of community. When I was writing this book, I felt particularly close to my readers in my mind. I felt this was a conversation that I was having — it felt like an important relationship and it sustained me.”

Alongside discussing the process of writing the book,  Lawson spoke about the recipes she decided to include in her book. 

“I enjoyed thinking about who had been around my table for those particular recipes — all the different occasions of my life that I’ve made that [dish for],” Lawson said. “I think that food has the power to do that for all of us. It’s such a repository of memory, so when we make a certain dish, we are also remembering the other times we made it.” 

Lawson has written a total of 12 books, with “Cook, Eat, Repeat” being the most recent release. Lawson does not consider herself a professional cook and aims to create recipes that are easy to follow, yet can be altered for more advanced cooks. 

“You’re not morally superior for cooking. I like cooking, and I’m often spooked by the ingredients that go into food if I don’t know where it’s [from],” she said. “I am a condiment queen. I really feel that what I like is relatively plain food, but with different condiments.”

In addition to sharing her journey of writing the book, Lawson spoke about her general relationship with food, as well as how loved ones in her life have struggled with eating disorders. 

“It’s important to allow yourself pleasure in food,” she said. 

“Life gives us all many hardships, [and] you don’t know what is going to come at you, so make the most of the things that give you pleasure. Don’t allow those things to be punishments.”

Laurie Colwin, an American author and food columnist, was one of the people that inspired Lawson when writing her first cookbook, “How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food,” released in 1998. Lawson reflected on how Colwin’s book, “Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen,” aided her in the beginning of her writing career.

“I’m very grateful to have come across [“Home Cooking,”] but I’m even more grateful to have come across it after I started my first book,” Lawson said.  “If I’d read it before I started, I never would’ve written it. How she writes is how you want to be.”

The night concluded with Lawson discussing what food she’d bring with her on a desert island.

“I suppose I would do what the Italians call spaghetti aglio e olio,” Lawson said. “It’s spaghetti with chili, garlic, oil and some parsley. There’s never a bad moment to eat that.”

More information on Lawson’s books and recipes can be found on her website

Andie San Luis is a Campus News Intern for the fall 2022 quarter. She can be reached at