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Not quite Nigella - a popular blog

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

"Back when I started, Mr NQN asked me how I would describe my style of cooking. I learned to cook by following Nigella Lawson so I described it as ‘like Nigella but not quite!’" Lorraine Elliott

Looking at that logo you would have to wonder whether the website is called Lorraine Elliott or Not Quite Nigella. I find it quite interesting, because, the website is known everywhere as Not Quite Nigella - and it's a really good title, but her own name figures largely, not just in the logo but also in large letters on almost every photograph.

What I also found interesting about the lady is that although she has an About page, she doesn't really tell you anything much about herself, or the name. All I learnt from it was that she loved food of all kinds - well of course she would, and also travel, and that she lives in Sydney. Oh and she loves old rescue dogs. But honestly I did not learn much else. She is obviously mixed race of some kind - the name is very English. The surname could, of course be her husband's, and the Chinese at least seem to have a habit of calling their Australian born children by old-fashioned English names. Which is not to say that she is of Chinese origin although she does have a section labelled My mother's recipes which are almost all Chinese.

So here's a little postscript to that. In a recipe blog about Stromboli - a kind of pizza - she puts in a little aside about having a DNA test and finding that she was 100% Chinese - though she knew this really. Her husband is mostly Finnish and Spanish - an intriguing mix - with presumably some English in there somewhere so that you get the surname Elliott. So yes she is fully Chinese in origin.

However in wanting to know more about her, I searched and found an interview that she did for Houzz - that home decoration website. And this told me a bit more - like why the site is called Not Quite Nigella. There is no reference to this on the website itself - and not much mention of Nigella Lawson herself, although I have not looked extensively through the website.

The website has four main sections - Recipes, Restaurants, Travel and Features and it looks like she does a post a day. You can subscribe and get them sent direct to you. There's a little bit of crossover between the sections, and the emphasis is definitely on the recipes, but these are pretty delectable looking (she does all the photography herself) and not just the recipe. There might be a bit of chat about why she is writing about this, and often there is some informative background, as well as step by step pictures if considered necessary. Videos too.

For example have a look at this post on Biang biang noodles. I chose this one to look at because I was very taken by the photograph. It's one that is inspired by a visit to a restaurant. It seems she often does this, but tries to make it her own.

"I’ll go away and think about how to make it my own way. My version will be simpler than the restaurant’s as chefs often have access to ingredients that my followers won’t buy. I also try to make my recipe healthier: a common swap is offering a baked version of a deep-fried dish." Lorraine Elliott

This particular recipe has quite a lot of information about these particular noodles and the region that they come from, for example.

That particular recipe came via a post on the top 5 noodle dishes, which included one she had made up herself - Low-carb eggplant noodles - probably the result of her recipe making process:

"That's basically why I cook certain things, just because I want to eat them. They usually come about in my head through a fantasy when I daydream about what I'd like to eat. It's basically what I would do when I was a kid and I was bored because I was waiting for my parents or at an event where I had to behave." Lorraine Elliott

The design of her site is rather more interesting than some. There seems to be a standard design that most food bloggers follow. I suspect they're all from a Wordpress template. This one, however, is different, although, of course, like mine, it could be a modified template from one of the web design companies, like Wix that I use, although she has copyright in her name, so maybe she designed it too. Here for example is what you see when you click on one of her posts - this one is Top 5 pizza recipes, which includes Stromboli, the dish that is featured at the start of the post. The main part of the screen is, of course, taken up by the post itself - in this case a list of the featured five - different formats of pizza, not just different toppings, but on the left are a number of related posts that you might also be interested in. As you scroll down the post the pictures alternate with text, and there are none of those annoying ads that sometimes are so intrusive that you barely see the text. Mind you her beautiful photographs are very large, and a bit overwhelming maybe, Ads are confined to a column at the right of the page, and a few are interspersed with the thumbnails of other posts on the left, and there are not a huge number of them. So top marks for ad aversion. Although, of course, if you are a professional blogger - as she is - then you have to have them. How else would you make a living?

Incidentally she came to blogging when becoming tired and bored by her job as a media strategist. At first (2007) it was a part-time hobby, suggested by her husband but when the GFC hit and she lost her job, she decided to make it her new career. It would be interesting to know how her blog became known to the world - initially at least. She now has some 250,000 followers. But then I suppose she is young and therefore more tuned into the social sharing world and there are techniques which assist with being found. Besides she had worked as a media strategist, and so presumably knew all about it. And of course, once found by the right people the word spreads.

The Restaurant section is not of much interest to me I suppose as she is a Sydney lady, but she covers a lot of ground there - not just the well-known trendy places, although those are covered too. The travel section is good as well - you can zero in on the part of the world you are interested in.

All in all a worthwhile site. The food is good and it's not overrun with ads. There is information and background about the food as well as the recipe. So have a look some time. Today's recipe - yes today - is Bubble tea boba chiffon cake. I think boba is pearl tapioca. She really does do this every day. Oh and she provides food for a refugee centre once a week too.

Some more words from that interview:

"It’s important to be curious and have fun with food; you can make a mistake and it’s fine because you’ll learn something about the ingredient.

My other piece of advice is always try and eat food with friends and people you love."

Lorraine Elliott

We had a wonderful home-made pizza birthday party yesterday for our six year old grandson. So her last words are absolutely appropriate. The pizzas, made by my two sons - well one mostly - the other helped, and his wife who had made the dough. They were absolutely delicious and the family buzz was just wonderful.

Yes I like this one even though the chat is aimed at a different age group to me.


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