How Does Nigella Lawson Pronounce ‘Microwave’?

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It’s so good. Photo: Anne-Marie Jackson/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Nigella Lawson is back on BBC 2 with a new television program(me) called Nigella’s Cook, Eat, Repeat, in which the domestic goddess introduces “viewers to a range of exciting new recipes aiming to elevate some of the most commonly used ingredients in British cooking.” (“Cook, eat, repeat” is also a depressingly accurate description of the repetitive nature of quarantine kitchen life — but we can worry about that later. We’ve got more important matters to discuss today.)

In the U.K., the new show has been steeped in a surprising bit of controversy from the beginning. “Viewers accuse Nigella Lawson of committing a ‘crime’ against cheesecake — after she drenches dessert in a sauce made with extra strong LIQUORICE pellets,” cried the Daily Mail, noting that just one week prior, she had incited a multinational scandal when she shared her preferred two-stage method for buttering toast.

And yet we were not prepared (how could we have been?) for this week’s installment, in which Lawson explains that, before adding full-fat milk to some soon-to-be-mashed potatoes, she warms the milk in the … microwave. As a commoner, you probably read that word as “micro-wave.” But this is not what Lawson says. Instead, she casually mentions that she warmed her milk in the …

Meek …
Row …
Wah …
Vay.

“Meek-row-wah-vay” is so good. We are all stuck in our dull kitchens with our stupid microwaves. Who knew that, with just a single slip of the tongue, we could transform ourselves into meekrowahvé people?

After its own investigation, the Independent determined the incident “was seemingly intended as a humorous mispronunciation by the chef,” but noted that fans had taken “delight in the bizarre speech quirk.”

There is a rich legacy here: In late June, for example, I learned that I could pronounce “popsicles” as if it were the name of an ancient Greek playwright — “POP-si-cleez” — and I plan to, if I ever speak out loud to another person again. Why drink chamomile when you can instead order “cha-mow-ma-lay”?

It’s true that we’ve all embraced our eccentricities a bit more over these past ten months, and thanks to Nigella Lawson, we can now see a future when we someday emerge from our homes. Perhaps we will all have developed new dialects, evolving, even in isolation, like Darwin’s finches.

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