On the Cheap The greatness of cultural worsts.

On the Cheap The greatness of cultural worsts.

Issue 49

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Arts & Culture

  • Words Rosalind Jana
  • Photograph Jaeha Kim

There is a pink-tinted photo of food writer Nigella Lawson in a Playboy Bunny T-shirt, cocktail shaker in French-manicured hand, that I love. It opens a chapter in her cookbook Nigella Bites entitled “Trashy,” in which she extols the virtues of watermelon daiquiris, fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, and ham cooked in Coke. “I’m not interested in pleasing food snobs or purists,” Lawson writes. “Surely there is a place . . . for a bit of kitsch in the kitchen.” 

Much of the current predilection for overt tackiness can be traced back to around the same time that Nigella Bites was published, the early 2000s. From the Y2K-inspired clothes to much-lauded books on British bubblegum pop and podcasts like Caroline O’Donoghue’s Sentimental Garbage, which regularly stop...

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