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What's in a name?

"it’s my little corner of the internet to write, worshipping and lamenting the food that comes out of my kitchen and I share with people I love."

Ally Mitchell

It's time to explore another one of those foodie websites out there. And the next one on my list is this one - Nigella Eats Everything, which is written - not by Nigella or anyone with the name Nigella but by a young Englishwoman now living in France called Ally (Alison) Mitchell. And I'm calling this post What's in a name? because in this particular case I think it was the name that made me put it on my list, although I must have come across it by some other means.

So I guess the first question to answer is why that title? Well it seems that when Ally Mitchell first had the idea for a food blog, she and her friends discussed a whole lot of names until:

"my friend Anthony said, in jest I must add, "Nigella eats everything! You should call it that.” And I did. It was one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments."

Indeed you would have to be there, because, really I still don't quite get it. Although here I am talking about a website to which I was attracted because of the name. So the name is a marketing success is it not? And it shows the power of celebrity - the celebrity being Nigella Lawson of course. Foodie people probably either love her or hate her - mostly love her I think - and such is her celebrity that you might be therefore tempted to check out this website simply because of the name Nigella. Even if you rapidly find it's got nothing to do with Nigella.

Or does it? Because unlike many other foodie blogs, this is a very chatty website. And Nigella herself - at least in her books and the TV is very chatty. Remember that comment I found the other day saying that you don't want cookbooks with a lot of chat? A statement with which I heartily disagree I must say. Well this is a website with more chat and, in some ways only incidental recipes. And I have to say that most of those recipes are for sweet things, or breakfast things, or snacks - which is not really me. For example I just checked out her meat category and there were only some half a dozen recipes there for a main dish - the others were snack kind of things. Not that I am rubbishing any of the snacks or recipes for anything. They all look pretty good, and everyday. Plenty of short cuts mixed with plenty of 'proper' cooking. It's just that if you are looking for a recipe database as it were - something like Recipe Tin Eats - then don't look here.

It's a clear demonstration of how important a name is though. I often wonder whether I should change mine. I mean Rosemary's Ramblings, although very descriptive of what I do, doesn't really grab attention does it. But then I'm not really trying to grab attention, or make a new career - just amusing myself.

This is the lady in question. She trained as a chef at Leith's Cooking School in London but didn't want to be a chef, so started the food blog. I have no idea how popular it is but she is also on Facebook - although with a mere 193 followers. Instagram is more successful - 809 followers there and Pinterest only has 30. Still it's not a huge audience is it? As I said earlier she now lives in Toulouse, France with her French boyfriend and, according to her Facebook page is a Personal Chef. Which I guess means that she will come and cook you a posh dinner for a fee. Or maybe she is somebody's personal chef. She also has another business as a food writer and photographer offering to take the photos for your blog or to even write some of it. So you can't say she isn't enterprising.

I have actually spent quite a bit of time browsing her blog because in lots of ways it's a bit like mine I suppose. As I said, she doesn't just provide a recipe and indeed sometimes the post is not about a particular recipe at all. Here are two examples.

The perfect Christmas hamper - well it's Christmas soon, so why not look at what she had to say? I suppose her ideas for what to cook were not that original, but she does give some convincing reasons for creating one.

"as Christmas Day draws closer, isn’t it preferable to mix, bake and simmer in a warm citrus-spice scented kitchen instead of dashing round the shops in a mad frenzy?"

True - and I do tend to do this, but I also supplement the home-made stuff with stuff bought from here and there. Indeed one of the best presents I received last year was a home-assembled hamper of gourmet goodies from here and there in trendy Northcote, from my son and ex-partner. The blog worked through the various categories of gifts, with some recipes as well as amiable chat as you worked through it. It reminded me I should start thinking about this. I should take a trip to the Queen Victoria market for starters.

My food bucket list 2022. This was interesting to me because I make a list of resolutions at the beginning of each year too. She introduces it with these words:

"January is month of philosophising. I live in my head as the year abruptly changes and I seem to think it’s like cleaning out the attic – shifting around boxes of to-do lists, piles of hopes and dreams, trying to gain some sense of order."

Now I don't think I feel quite the same about my to-do lists. Mine are more a resolve to do better, and I think a bit more ambitious. And as I look at them I find I have, as usual failed on virtually all of them. So rather than depress myself I might leave that for the end of the year, or the beginning of the next. And actually one of the points that Ally Mitchell makes is that the resolutions should be achievable. So her list is simply a list of 10 dishes that she will make at some point through the year. Which is an interesting idea. Maybe I should think about that - Pavlova? - I've never managed to do that successfully. Soufflé? - I've never tried - and I'm sure there are other such dishes.

But she does have recipes too and here are a couple:

Pain au chocolat - as she so rightly says this is perhaps, along with baguettes and croissants, the top French food. The recipe is genuine in that it looks hugely difficult although successful because apparently her French boyfriend gave them the thumbs up. Warning they took two days to make so I won't be going there.

Or you can go to the real Nigella and make her cheat's version - which I have mentioned before. Basically you buy the puff pastry, cut a sheet into four squares and then triangles. Put a block of chocolate (not the whole block, one of the little squares) on the long edge and roll up. Then curve into a crescent shape and cook. Honestly it works. But then again they are probably not as good as those described here.

When we are out and about in France it's David's go-to lunch and here he is in beautiful Uzès finishing one up and looking very pleased with himself.

I guess the point of mentioning this recipe is that the recipes are not just the kind that uses one commercial product after another to throw something not really very tempting together. All the recipes look good - there was even a Potato and leek soup, although I didn't notice a pan con tomate. The closest she comes to that I think is Tomato, mayo and feta on toast.

Listed as one of her most popular recipes is one I might try - No churn cherry ripple ice-cream. The trick to the no-churn being condensed milk and vodka. There's lime juice in there too. Now it could be a suitable Christmas dessert, although I guess the children wouldn't be able to eat it. I might well give it a go though.

As I say, I browsed the site a fair bit. I even considered subscribing to her newsletter. I'm not quite sure why. The writing is - yes - chatty and appealing. It's not amazingly wonderful like Nigel or even Nigella. But it does draw you in. There are no ads cluttering up the screen in a maddening way, so you can read straight through without wondering whether you are reading an ad or the post. Every now and then there are little insights and bits of information that I considered worth thinking about. I don't think she writes very frequently - I'm guessing something like once a month, but it does seem to be fairly current.

A quiet little pleasure.


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