Opinion | “Nadiya’s Time to Eat” cooks with heart

By Rayna Wuh, Columnist

Netflix’s “Nadiya’s Time to Eat” is a warm, relatable cooking show hosted by the 2015 “Great British Bake Off” winner Nadiya Hussain. Between the vibrant pastel colors of the kitchen and Nadiya’s radiant personality, “Time to Eat” is a feel-good series perfect for easy viewing.

The episodes always include a main course accompanied by baked sweets, snacks and light meals for any mood. Nadiya’s experience on “Bake Off” demonstrates her skill at utilizing more traditional and time-consuming techniques in the kitchen. However, in this series, her recipes emphasize what she calls “cheats.”  In a time crunch, her judgment-free hacks can be used by anyone, including busy college students.

Every week Nadiya travels to mentor a different family — sharing recipes and such “cheats” to cut down stress and save quality time better spent together with family. While many of them are unconventional — including her use of canned baked beans to make falafels — they present realistic and accessible methods to create delicious meals.

The use of shortcuts is something that has always been incorporated into Nadiya’s cooking. In an interview with Refinery29, she discussed how the show felt “so true and very real to [her] experience and background” and was, therefore “such a natural show to do.” The authenticity and compassion she extends to guests on the show and the audience reflects this sentiment.

Nadiya assists a wide range of people including, but not limited to, busy mothers — a demographic often targeted for tips in the kitchen. The number of men and women appearing on the show is roughly equal. In addition to mothers, Nadiya shares advice with a time-poor trucker, a new father worried he is not doing enough to help around the house and an overworked veterinarian.

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The diversity in who Nadiya guides is refreshing, and she, herself, aims to create strides forward in representation. In another interview, she talked about how she never saw Muslim or Bangladeshi women of color on the screen. For her, the idea of having her own show was too far-fetched and did not initially cross her mind. 

Nadiya expresses how having a cooking show is so much more than that for her. She hopes that as a British, Bangladeshi, Muslim woman of color she gets “to be the person that people look at and think, ‘I can be like her’” and “that’s a big deal.” Nadiya incorporates various aspects of her background into her cooking through ingredients, techniques and the dishes themselves. 

In all of the episodes, there is an emphasis on creating space and quality time to spend with family without compromising the quality of the food or enjoyment of cooking. Drawing from both her cultural background and creativity, she brings joy to the kitchen reducing the regular fuss that usually detracts from the experience of cooking. Nadiya’s charm and vibrant energy continually brighten the screen, making for light entertainment even when time always seems to get in the way.

Rayna is a freshman in LAS.

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