“Our duty is to be fat” – Cakes

TITLE: Cakes

NUMBER: Series 1, Episode 4

ORIGINAL AIRDATE: October 30, 1996

SETTINGS: The village of Hallaton, in Leicestershire. Anthea [Kenyon], a friend of Clarissa’s “from my W.I. days,” has asked the ladies to contribute some baked goods for the annual village fête.

“Famous Anthea” (r.).

Traditional village fete.

Traditional village fête.

(Clarissa seems familiar with the village, pointing out Virginia creeper and a buttercross as they arrive. [Or perhaps she’s just a know-it-all.]) Continue reading

Extra: My methods.

My lovely girlfriend, if you can believe that I have one, treats this Two Fat Ladies project with a good deal more indulgence than some might. Today, she got a kick out of my list of possible images for the next recap. Here’s my original list, with her annotation:

20140727_183358

In case you can’t read my handwriting (which I expect probably no one can), my list reads:

Cakes

CDW sunglasses – 2:55

JP face 8:35

Bra 12:00

JP feather 14:20

Her note, I think, is legible enough if you click on the photo, but in case you can’t, here’s a transcription:

This list cracks me up.

You’ll have to wait till later in the week for the images from “Cakes” themselves.

“Who’d want to be Protestant when you can have Cardinals?” – Fruit & Vegetables

TITLE: Fruit & Vegetables

NUMBER: Series 1, Episode 3

ORIGINAL AIRDATE: October 23, 1996

SETTINGS: Westminster Cathedral, London, where Jennifer’s uncle is Gentiluomo to Cardinal Basil Hume.

Westminster Cathedral.

Westminster Cathedral.

Traditional costume of a gentiluomo.

Traditional costume of a gentiluomo.

Jennifer's uncle, Anthony Bartlett.

Jennifer’s uncle, Anthony Bartlett.

Her grandfather did the job before him. She notes the current Cardinal’s predecessors are “under the sod.” Continue reading

“Now it’s fun time!” – Meat

TITLE: Meat

NUMBER: Series 1, Episode 2

ORIGINAL AIRDATE: October 16, 1996

SETTINGS: Westonbirt, a Gloucestershire girls’ school housed in a (rather fantastic) country house. [In Cooking with the Two Fat Ladies, written during production, Clarissa says (or implies, anyway) that Westonbirt was the alma mater of producer Patricia Llewellyn.]

Westonbirt.

Westonbirt.

Patricia Llewelyn, the auteur of  Two Fat Ladies.

Patricia Llewelyn, the auteur of Two Fat Ladies.

The ladies are impressed with the building (“Plenty of room for the smell of boiled cabbage to rise,” says Clarissa) and in particular with its industrial-sized kitchen, with “railway sleepers on the ceiling” and Brobdingnagian cookware. Continue reading

“I like rich food” – Fish & Shellfish

TITLE: Fish & Shellfish

NUMBER: Series 1, Episode 1

ORIGINAL AIRDATE: October 9, 1996

SETTINGS: Mevagissey, Cornwall. Jennifer and Clarissa cook at the Sharksfin Quayside Pub and Restaurant.

In recent years, the Sharksfin has added a gaudy new sign.

In recent years, the Sharksfin has added a gaudy new sign.

For the field trip, they collect mussels at Hemmick Beach (with Jennifer carrying them in her helmet) and take a ride on a crab boat. [In Spilling the Beans, Clarissa says series creator Patricia Llewellyn got seasick on the boat ride.] Continue reading

By way of explanation.

Clarissa Dickson Wright died in March of this year. It was a moment of real sadness for me, since over time Two Fat Ladies, the cooking program she co-hosted in the 1990s with Jennifer Paterson, has given me as much pleasure as any other TV show I can think of, and possibly as much as any other form of entertainment has.

Many times since the show stopped broadcasting (after Jennifer’s death in 1999), I have been surprised what little interest the Internet has shown in cataloguing its details. The program was a massive hit in Britain, even a significant one here in America, and yet to this point there hasn’t been so much as a proper fan site published. In an era when episodes of television series are obsessively recapped and publicly picked apart the moment they air, this is unacceptable.

Consider this. Recently, following a tough day at the office, I came home and worked through my frustrations by making a good meal in the kitchen. As I cooked, I remembered something clever Jennifer once said about businessmen making dinner after a hard day’s work. Google though I might, I couldn’t find the quote. Fortunately, the age of streaming digital video is a golden one for solving these sorts of problems, and in short order I was able to find it:

 Very good for the busy businessman to come home and make a serious meal. It would calm them down no end. In fact, I do know some who do; they come home and they settle down and cook a proper dinner, and they find it relaxing, you know, after those ghastly things they do in the city, with stocks, and shares, and destroying each other’s reputations.

As I say, in this day and age it is unacceptable, no, unforgivable, that such a brilliantly phrased observation should not be preserved for posterity, along with the kitchen advice and lore, marvelous references, historical anecdotes (both real and imaginary), etc., that were such an integral part of the program. So, here is my attempt to do so.

I should note that this isn’t a cooking blog, although as I said I do like to cook and have done a number of the recipes from Two Fat Ladies. I am starting out viewing this as a detailed episode guide written from a fan’s point of view, although from time to time I may supplement with posts about my attempts to try recipes, should I make any. As I am an American, I am using U.S. spellings throughout.

We are just over two years out from the twentieth anniversary of the first Two Fat Ladies series, and I am hopeful by the time we reach it I will have every episode covered here. Obviously, BBC owns all rights to the program; I make no claim on these and am not profiting from this blog in any way. Most images are found; if you are the rightful owner of one, please contact me and I will happily remove it.

Enjoy. — WK

Daniel Morgenstern portrait

A fine portrait by Daniel Morgenstern.