Cooking alone helped Nigella ‘hold on to sanity’ through first husband’s cancer

·2-min read
Nigella Lawson’s most asked-about recipe is for her famous Malteser cake (Getty Images)
Nigella Lawson’s most asked-about recipe is for her famous Malteser cake (Getty Images)

Nigella Lawson has revealed that cooking for herself is what got her through her first husband John Diamond’s cancer.

The television cook urged people not to see cooking meals for one as “depressing”, but instead as “the most wonderful thing”.

Diamond suffered from oral cancer and died aged 47 in March 2001. He had been married to Lawson for nine years before his death.

In a new interview with Australian Women’s Weekly, the celebrity cook said that cooking meals for herself was “part of holding onto my sanity when my husband couldn’t eat, because he had oral cancer”.

Reflecting on her social media interactions with other people during the coronavirus lockdowns, Lawson said: “People would send messages and say, ‘It’s so depressing just cooking for myself’.

“And I tried to say, ‘It really shouldn’t be depressing. It’s the most wonderful thing’.”

Lawson explained that during Diamond’s illness, she would initially “go into a thing where you just grab a sandwich”.

“But then I thought, ‘No, it’s really important to prepare a meal’,” she added.

Lawson, who shares two children with Diamond, also said that lockdown gave her the opportunity to spend time in her own company.

“I’d already come to the conclusion that I adore solitude, which is just as well,” she said.

“I think that’s also about being a bit older. So I feel very fortunate that I didn’t feel lonely during lockdown.”

Following the death of her first husband, Lawson went on to marry art collector Charles Saatchi in September 2003.

The pair were married for 10 years before they divorced in July 2013. Lawson has kept her love life private since then.

In an interview with Good Housekeeping magazine in March, she said she found a “sense of companionship” on Twitter during the pandemic.

Lawson began using her social media profile to answer questions from social media users and to give cooking advice when lockdown forced many to cook at home.

“I was getting a lot of panicked messages on Twitter from people who weren’t used to cooking, so I started giving advice in the way I would if a friend phoned for help,” she explained.

“Everyone kept saying, ‘Oh, it’s so nice that you’re doing that’, but the truth is, it was a mutual thing. It still is.

“It gives me a sense of companionship and connection to others, which is really important to me,” she added.

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