When Geist requested a copy of How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking by the new English kitchen queen Nigella Lawson (Knopf Canada) “for review purposes,” the distributor wrote back to say “fat chance.” They could not have chosen a more appropriate expression. Eventually I broke down and bought the book, and I have been enthralled with it ever since: the proof of a pudding is not in its tastiness, but in its power to woo. Lawson takes a luxurious approach to food, and her television show and adored cookbook How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food have been greeted with drooling reviews. Does her goddess baking really win hearts through stomachs? To test it, first I made snickerdoodles (a cookie made famous by Betty Crocker) for a friend. Lawson omits the cream of tartar, to the detriment of the recipe. But the cookies did raise my pal out of the doldrums of a cold January afternoon, and happiness is a cousin of playfulness, itself a distant relative of sexual frenzy. Next I investigated the charms of Lawson’s brownies at a dinner party. They disappeared almost as soon as they were served, the guests uttering oohs and aahs of gratification but no yelps of lustfulness, and again I was left alone to wash up. Perhaps a main dish would pack the wallop I needed: specifically Pizza Rustica, a giant pie filled with buffalo mozzarella, basil, pancetta, ricotta and Italian sausage. I served it to a small—even intimate—gathering of friends and waited. They sighed with gustatory delight and ate quietly, without conversing, only their knives and forks sounding the music of sensual pleasure. And then—nothing. Nobody threw off their clothing or rushed into the bedroom. And there you have it. How to Be a Domestic Goddess may not entice diners to declare their ardour, but it is still charming, delicious and, er, inspirational.