I remember watching Two Fat Ladies cook up their monstrous meals on daytime television when I was 11 or so. My mother loved cooking shows and this was by far her favorite. With the US DVD release in July 2008 my mother received the set for Christmas and as of late, we have been reminiscing together about our favorite cooking duo.
For those who don’t know of the show Two Fat Ladies, I will explain. The ladies consisted of Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson, two bold chubby motorcycle riding gals with a penchant for all things food. The show aired from 1996 to 1999 on BBC2.
The show centered on ladies, Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson, travelling the UK on a motorcycle with a sidecar. The would travel about fixing large meals, usually made from unusual ingredients, for various groups or events. Their clientele included soldiers at an army barracks, a boy’s choir singing at Winchester Cathedral on Christmas, a band of motorcyclists, and they stopped at unusual places including campgrounds, breweries, and even the Brazilian embassy.
Because the ladies are in a new location every show, the kitchens, ovens, and pots change with the menu. The stoves are sometimes wood burning and the pots are always worn. This just adds to the charm and overall feel of the show.
Their food was nothing short of traditional English fare and when I say traditional, I mean it. Their recipes were gleaned from an older England with ingredients like rendered fat and drippings, raw eggs, unpasteurized milk products, fresh home-grown herbs, and everything made by hand from scratch. They emphasized the importance of using fresh ingredients of the very best quality, avoiding supermarkets for farms and roadside markets and gathering their meat from local butchers, farmers, and hunters.
The food is unbelievable but their banter and sometimes off-color remarks made the show a joy to watch. It seemed nothing was scripted as Jennifer would suggest stealing bay leaves from neighbors doorsteps if you didn’t have any because after all, it is so plentiful no one would notice. She often spoke about her fire escape back home being covered in herbs to keep the robbers at bay. Another amusing aspect of the show was the ladies distain for vegetarians. They both would speak quite disparagingly about them in a humorous way. Jennifer once said a vegetable sandwich was “Delicious, despite its vegetarian overtones.” In one episode, Jennifer explained that although Kedgeree had originally included lentils, a Colonel’s maid who brought the dish back to England got rid of all the lentils. The story won cheers of support from Clarissa who said, “Hurrah! Get rid of all lentils. You’ve no idea how randy they make vegetarians.”
Just watching these ladies cook will win you over. They are totally unconcerned with calories, which led to a bit of criticism from journalist, opting for butter, fat drippings, lard, and piling layers of bread, butter, and meat on several dishes. There isn’t a vegetable they prepare that isnt cooked in or with some sort of fat or oil. One dish actually called for lining the crock with bacon before adding the other ingredients. Yum.
Finding their recipes online isn’t hard, but recreating what you watch them prepare is so much more satisfying. They rarely used set amounts, instead instructing folks at home to use some of this or a bit of that. Cooking times are always until it is done.
I would recommend anyone that cooks to pick up the DVD set. Regardless of your cooking skills you will find a plethora of recipes you can make at home like fruit tarts, stuffed tomatoes, or the classic Bubble & Squeak. Happy Cooking!