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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Amy Sedghi

Nigella Lawson says she is too self-conscious to say ‘microwave’

Nigella Lawson
Nigella Lawson in the BBC special Nigella’s Amsterdam Christmas. She now refers to the microwave as ‘you-know-what’. Photograph: Jay Brookes/BBC Studios

It was a mispronunciation that launched a thousand memes. Now Nigella Lawson has said she feels too self-conscious to utter the word “microwave” after her pronunciation went viral.

A clip of the celebrity cook pronouncing “microwave” as “meecro-wah-vay” while talking about heating milk was shared widely online in 2020.

Lawson told BBC Breakfast, she now refers to the electric appliance as the “you-know-what”. “I wasn’t quite aware I’d said it, because that’s what I call it at home,” she told Jon Kay, the show’s host.

She said she had been contacted by others sharing their family’s mispronunciations. “So many families do have that: so they mispronounce a word because a child in the family could never say it properly and that’s become part of their family language, or just because they make jokes and they stick.”

Asked by Kay whether she would be saying: “I’m just going to put these sprouts in the meecro-wah-vay?” on Christmas Day, Lawson said the attention she received for her mispronunciation had made her feel self-conscious.

“I’m not,” she responded, with a smile. “It’s made me quite self-conscious now. I tend to refer to it as the you-know-what now.”

Known for influencing Christmas cooking trends – she doubled sales of goose fat after endorsing it in a roast potato recipe on TV – Lawson made headlines last month for urging people to ditch Christmas cake this year.

Instead of opting for the traditional festive bake, she said in the Sunday Times, she would be making one of her classic crowd-pleasing chocolate cakes this Christmas and declared it a new festive tradition in her household.

“Much as I love a slice of dense, damp Christmas cake, especially when eaten with a slice of strong, sharp cheese, I am surrounded by those who abominate dried fruit in all its seasonal manifestations,” she said. Not all Christmas dessert traditions have been thrown out though – Lawson said she would still be making a small Christmas pudding and a trifle.

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