There’s something about Nadiya. I’m not sure if it’s her flawless skin, multitude of matching headscarves or her genuine warmth and empathy.
“Your face is beautiful,” said one Thai woman to her in her latest foodie travelogue. She was transfixed. We all were.
Nadiya Hussain won the nation’s hearts when she was crowned 2015 Bake Off champ and made THAT speech. She was a natural on telly and soon ventured out of the studio kitchen.
Nadiya’s Asian Odyssey on BBC1 on Monday, had a slight Who Do You Think You Are? feel about it. But with fewer historical documents and more garlic.
Having discovered her ancestry is not just Bangladeshi but takes in Thailand, Cambodia and Nepal, British-born Nadiya threw herself into the journey, arms outstretched. All that was missing was Davina McCall popping up to say: “We’ve found her!”
Speaking to a poor widowed mum of four kids in Cambodia, Nadiya held her hand and the tears rolled.
“That could have been me struggling to feed my kids,” she said.
Later the sight of water buffaloes stirred emotions. Her late grandfather had hundreds, she said. He taught her how to take them to the river when she was ten.
Surely there’s potential for an At Home With The Hussains series? I’d have happily seen more of her husband and three kids. How did they feel about mum going away?
“Mainly sad, tearful, upset and, er, just more words that mean sad,” chirped one of her sons.
Fortunately she was only gone a fortnight. She FaceTimed every day, showing them sunsets. A chattering gaggle of older Thai women cooed approvingly over the photo of her husband. This was as much about Nadiya as the countries.
Oh, there was food too. Nadiya made French patisserie with giggling Cambodian girls. She met a grandfather who, like a tight-rope walker, whizzed up 20 sugar palm trees a day collecting sap.
She made a fish curry on a floating kitchen and at a market she tried durian, the world’s stinkiest fruit.
If that wasn’t brave enough, she visited the, er, fine-dining restaurant, Insects In The Backyard.
“Doomsday Mike” cooked cricket nachos and ant caviar, warning we will need to eat bugs come the armageddon. She confessed she prefers a packet of crisps.
Later she made a pad thai for experts to disapproving looks all round.
But she didn’t mind. With no pretentious cheffy hang-ups, she is the everywoman.
And with all she touches turning to TV gold, I’m hungry for anything else she brings to the table.
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