Does it happen to you? As you walk down the street, do you cast an eye to the shop window and catch a reflection, a glimpse with undefined contours? What do you see? or rather, who would you like to see in that reflection? Sometime I hope with all my heart to see a slender girl, with an innate elegance just as Audrey Hepburn, with finely combed hair, a peculiar but not too eccentric style, a bright smile and a golden aura around her. Needless to say, when I look up and focus on that reflection, there is no trace of Audrey and her little black dress.
If I got off on the wrong foot, surely I’ll see a girl with Mafalda‘s hair, far from being a style icon, circled eyes and grey-sh to puddle green complexion, clumsy as a rhinoceros in a china shop, a girl who never knows how to bring her bag, as it tends to slide down from whatever position it is, giving me that precarious and awkward aspect I cannot shake myself free of.
But there are also good days – the most of them, fortunately – and in that moments I see not the most elegant, refined and confident woman in the world, but a country girl I like, someone with flaws that make her human, someone with a calm self-irony, a tool to get over circled eyes and a living bag always falling from her shoulder! So I smile at her with affection, I rearrange my bag on my shoulder, precariously, and I step to the next shop window.
I’m pretty sure that Nigella sees exactly herself into that shopping window. You can clearly see that she loves herself in each and every inch of her soft femininity, she respects her being a woman and covers her body in smile and light. This is why I like her so much, not only for her books and tv programs. Actually her cooking style is not exactly like mine, but I feel a great respect and affection for her, because when you see her on tv you can’t help but exclaim What a beautiful woman!, looking with more affection at your belly, not as flat as the sea when there’s no wind!
This brings to my mind a passage from Eat, pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert. The following one is one of my favourite moments in the book, a page I’ve read many times, a fundamental truth to learn by heart if you want to live in harmony with yourself. The reflection that you see in the mirror it’s not just you, but it’s a friend of yours, someone who will always be there for you, someone to take care of. This is what Liz eventually learnt in the book, this is what Nigella does every day, this is what I’m learning to do!
Tonight, this strange interior gesture of friendship—the lending of a hand from me to myself when nobody else is around to offer solace—reminds me of something that happened to me once in New York City. I walked into an office building one afternoon in a hurry, dashed into the waiting elevator. As I rushed in, I caught an unexpected glance of myself in a security mirror’s reflection. In that moment, my brain did an odd thing—it fired off this split-second message: “Hey! You know her! That’s a friend of yours!” And I actually ran forward toward my own reflection with a smile, ready to welcome that girl whose name I had lost but whose face was so familiar. In a flash instant of course, I realized my mistake and laughed in embarrassment at my almost doglike confusion over how a mirror works. But for some reason that incident comes to mind again tonight during my sadness in Rome, and I find myself writing this comforting reminder at the bottom of the page.
Today is the perfect day to publish the recipe I chose for Sarah’s Forever Nigella #2 Seduced by chocolate blog event at Maison Cupcake. You can find all the information about the blog event on her blog. By the way, I just love Sarah, we discovered in London during FBC10 a shared passion for paper napkins!
The recipe: since I am sticking exactly to the original recipe as illustrated in Kitchen, Recipes form the heart of the Home, just follow the link to Nigella’s website, where you can find the recipe. My only change was a splash (a generous splash, let’s say 60 ml) of dark rum, inspired by Nigella’s joyful and sensual cooking style!
A few tips: store these muffins in a tin box and they will be soft and fragrant for more than a week. Place a few dried orange peels into the box, too. Orange and rum is a powerful mix: you will be amazed by the wonderful aroma that will overwhelm you every time you’ll open the box! Ideally, these are morning muffins, studied for breakfast, but I went a bit heavy with the rum, you know, I’m a generous person… so, they are now perfect after-work snacks to be enjoyed with a cup of black tea. They wipe off the last clouds from your heart and your eyes and welcome you at home with verve.