Many Flemish people seem to have a problem with authority figures

8 November 2014
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As published in De Standaard on 11/08/2014

She is the Queen of the Book Fair and Flanders’ ultimate kitchen princess. And that’s despite the fact that she doesn’t have a T.V. cooking show and despite the fact that she makes herself unpopular as soon as she opens her mouth. “I know that it’s sympathetic to show your imperfections, to laugh at yourself, to analyze things to the point of destruction, but I’m not like that.”

Wednesday afternoon at the Book Fair. There are mainly school children present and her book signing session has yet to be announced – this session is especially for De Standaard, so that we not only meet with her but with her readers as well. “If the turnout is disappointing, then it’s fair to say it’s not a true representation”, her promoter reminded me. “During the weekend, there’s quite a line, believe me”. But Pascale Naessens hasn’t sat for more than 2 seconds at her table before a long line of fans emerges from among the sparse crowd. There are mothers and daughters who are dieting together, a young woman, blushing furiously, who says her “husband has always wanted her to cook something by Pascale Naessens” along with children on a school trip who know that their mother loves her books. Naessens joins in for photographs and asks people if they like her food. Only the young teenager who wants her autograph on his arm gets a “no”. “I’m not a superstar”, Naessens says. But she has no problem signing a flyer advertising her tableware collection. A businesswoman: that she most certainly is.

Never count calories

Last week, Naessens antagonized the potato industry and the Farmers’ Union because she had appealed to her audience via her website to go to a restaurant and ask to have vegetables instead of a portion of potatoes. “It’s particularly sad that there are still so many restaurants that don’t serve vegetables, but only fish or meat with gravy and potatoes”, she wrote. “It seems so outdated. We have a right to expect vegetables, especially in a restaurant. We pay to have food that’s tasty, but also healthy.

* This is only an excerpt from the article. You can read the full (Dutch) article in the PDF file below.

'I know that it’s sympathetic to show your imperfections, to laugh at yourself, to analyze things to the point of destruction, but I’m not like that.'