“From the hip” – Game

TITLE: Game

NUMBER: Series 1, Episode 5

ORIGINAL AIRDATE: November 6, 1996

SETTINGS: Lennoxlove House, East Lothian, Scotland, “the home of the fifteenth Duke of Hamilton.” Clarissa explains the house’s name: “Well, Frances Stuart, Duchess of Lennox, had a favorite nephew, Lord Blantyre – she’s the one who was Britannia on the coins.

The Duchess as Britannia.

The Duchess as Britannia.

The Duchess as herself.

The Duchess as herself.

“She left it to him, and its correct name is ‘Lennox’ Love to Blantyre.’” (“We should have such aunts,” Jennifer says.) Clarissa says the Duchess’s ghost still haunts the place. According to her, Lennoxlove is also “only house in Scotland that Mary, Queen of Scots, didn’t bed down in.”

Lennoxlove

Lennoxlove House.

Clarissa also takes the opportunity to lecture Jennifer on the Duke’s ancestors in the portrait gallery, including Lady Mary Feilding, who “was married to the first Duke when she was nine and he was thirteen. . . . She died at twenty-six, having had six children – all girls.” (“What a disgrace,” says Jennifer.) [It’s a good anecdote, but not totally accurate.]

What a disgrace.

Lady Mary Feilding: “What a disgrace.”

For the field trip segment, they go game bird-shooting on the “Glen Turret Estate” in Perthshire (a fair drive from Lennoxlove). The gamekeeper there is Ian McPhee. Clarissa comments on the smell of cordite from the shotguns.

Mr. McPhee (r.).

Mr. McPhee (r.).

Jennifer sleeps in a bedroom once occupied by Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

Her father was a Scottish Earl himself.

Her father was a Scottish Earl himself.

DISHES: Jennifer cooks a rabbit stew, and “medallions” of venison with bramble (blackberry) jelly. (When she points out one serving is two or three pieces, Clarissa says, “I’ll have five, then.”) [I’ve made this recipe too, and it’s good – though the last time I attempted it I used stew meat rather than a better cut of venison, and it wound up being tough and horrible. You live, you learn. – WK]

Clarissa does a terrine of pheasant meat and pickled walnuts. She also cooks partridge with cabbage and juniper berries (“When I say I’m going to cook partridges with cabbage, people look askance at me”), and grouse birds stuffed with apples. (She calls the latter “Duntreath grouse” after a Scottish estate.)

Duntreath Castle.

Duntreath Castle.

FOOD TIPS AND LORE: Clarissa says, “You may think that game is for the rich, the idle, and the aristo, but you’d be wrong. Game is lean – ‘fat-free,’ if you must – delicious, more importantly, and you can even buy it in supermarkets these days.” Given the episode’s focus, she invokes the sixth Duke of Hamilton, “the hunting Duke,” but Jennifer says she’ll “stick to old St. Hubert” [the patron saint of hunters].

The Hunting Duke.

The hunting Duke.

St. Hubert.

The visitation of St. Hubert.

Game needs to have fat added for cooking, because of its natural leanness. A bain-marie (“Mary’s bath”) keeps the bottom of dishes from burning. “Don’t use a cube for stock,” says Jennifer.

Jennifer flours her rabbit pieces in a Ziploc bag rather than “dib-dabbing on,” and warns against getting chili oils in one’s eyes. Her rabbit recipe inspires this conversation:

Clarissa: Until the early Eighteenth Century, when they suddenly started breeding, [rabbits] were a rarity . . . a great luxury food. You used to have warrenders, who were quite high nobles of the court, who looked after the King’s rabbits.

Jennifer: Also, they have a far better taste than your average supermarket chicken.

Clarissa: A board of polystyrene tastes better than the average supermarket chicken.

Rabbit 2

“A board of polystyrene tastes better than the average supermarket chicken.”

Pheasants must be hung before cooking, unlike grouse or partridge, according to Clarissa.

????????????????????????????????

Pickled walnuts can add color and flavor to beef stew. Jennifer says she’s cooked “old partridges” in the heart of a whole cabbage before.

Venison is best cooked a little rare. According to Clarissa, the country people say “the Devil pisses on the blackberries” at the end of the season. [Some even say the Devil is responsible for their black color.]

Devil Blackberries

When putting metal foil over the dish containing the grouse, Jennifer asks if it should be wrapped quite firmly; “No, quite loosely,” says Clarissa. “Drape it round the dish, like an evening shawl.”

REMEMBRANCES OF THINGS PAST: Clarissa used to manage a pheasant farm of 25,000 birds:

And don’t let the Fluffy Bunny Brigade ever tell you that they are dear, sweet creatures. They are one of God’s nastiest animals. They come out of the egg trying to peck each other’s eyes out. And they have gang bangs! I mean, all the cocks go round and they jump on this poor little hen pheasant and rape her to death.

One of God's nastiest animals.

“One of God’s nastiest animals.”

Pheasants

Jennifer also takes a (not completely comprehensible) walk down Memory Lane:

Jennifer: You wouldn’t believe, a hundred years ago, I was shooting chukar in Benghazi with the Lancers, of all people –

Clarissa: Oh, Jennifer, how frightfully pukka!

Jennifer: – and they had a mad Italian consul, who shot everybody, and ended the game.

Clarissa: Forgive my ignorance, but what is chukar?

Jennifer: It’s like a partridge, a desert partridge.

Clarissa: Bigger?

Jennifer: Bigger. Very good to eat.

Chukar

The Bengal Lancers, whose connection to Jennifer is I'll admit not quite clear to me.

The Bengal Lancers, whose connection to Jennifer is I’ll admit not quite clear to me.

STRONG OPINIONS: At the mention of Clarissa’s pickled walnuts, Jennifer says, “I hope they’re not those disgusting, heavily vinegared ones you get in pubs – I don’t like that taste.” Clarissa assures them she pickled them herself (“Very proud-making,” says Jennifer).

pickled_walnutsJennifer’s favorite game is “anything to eat with bread sauce.”

Bread sauce.

Bread sauce.

SONGS AND MUSIC: Jennifer sings a Scottish version of “The Stately Homes of England” (“Apologies to Noël”).

While shooting, she also mentions Annie Oakley and sings “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun” from Annie Get Your Gun.

The stock music played during the shooting-party scene is “Flight by Jet,” performed by the Danish State Radio Orchestra.

At dinner, the piper stands improbably close to the table and plays “The Pibroch of Donald Dhu.”

Downton

Or maybe it isn’t so improbable.

LITERARY/CULTURAL REFERENCES: Upon seeing the kilted shooting party, Jennifer misquotes Lord Byron’s “The Destruction of Sennacherib”: “The Scotsman came down like a wolf on the fold!/His corsets were gleaming in purple and gold!” (Clarissa: “I don’t think it’s ‘corsets,’ dear.”)

The Scotsman came down like a wolf on the fold.

“The Scotsman came down like a wolf on the fold!”

(Illustration to the actual poem.)

The Destruction of Sennacherib.

Byron.

Byron.

“Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble” leads to a discussion of Macbeth’s witches.

Macbeth-and-the-witches

Macbeth and witches from what looks like a very scary production.

(“I make my stocks at midnight,” says Jennifer; perhaps a reference to this song?)

STYLE WATCH: Both ladies wear tartan and seem to be affecting a “country” look (Jennifer’s rainboots, Clarissa’s horsey skirt and Inverness cape, etc.).

Country fashions

There is a good close-up of Jennifer’s driving gloves, and she wears a rather nice headscarf too:

Head scarf

XENOPHOBIA ALERT:  Jennifer does a bad Scottish accent.

ON DRINKS AND DRINKING:  Clarissa later said that she was somewhat frightened to film the shooting scene because of Jennifer’s drinking, but the latter doesn’t appear to have any problems – that the audience can see, anyway. In the second cooking segment, her speech is a perhaps a little slurred, but she gets through it.

From the hip

MEMORABLE MOMENTS: Clarissa does a Python-esque impression of a microwave oven.

PHONY BUSINESS: The Duke of Hamilton is “in the Tukai [perhaps this?] flying airplanes with Hussein of Jordan,” and in his absence the ladies supposedly have been “summoned to cook for his guests.”

[UPDATE: I sleuthed this one. It isn’t the Tukai, of course, but rather the Touquet, a French resort town. – WK]

The fifteenth Duke.

The fifteenth Duke of Hamilton, at Lennoxlove.

Hussein of Jordan.

Hussein of Jordan (with Queen Noor).

It's unclear whether the Duke or King Hussein are piloting the aircraft in this photo.

It’s unclear whether the Duke or King Hussein are piloting the aircraft in this photo.

The Tukai Desert.

The Tukai Desert. Nothing to do with this episode, as it turns out.

[Later on, Clarissa would become friends with the Duke and for a time was apparently in charge of all the food at Lennoxlove, according to her autobiography.]

Here's a photo of the two of them together.

I found this picture online, posted with the claim that this was the two of them together, but I don’t actually believe that’s him.

[They also embarked on a venture together to bottle and sell some sort of fish sauce Clarissa invented, but apparently it was a flop. But she liked him – in Two Fat Ladies Obsessionsin fact, she includes an ice-cream recipe she named after him.]

MISTAKES: Jennifer’s instructions about marinating the rabbit in advance have been dubbed over afterwards.

Oddly, Jennifer butts in and muddles up not one, but two of Clarissa’s stories. (Perhaps more evidence she drank too much while filming this one?)

In the first, Clarissa tells how her mother buried a haunch of venison given to her surgeon father by “a Highland laird” and couldn’t remember where it was; Jennifer spoils this story by introducing the idea of burying it before Clarissa has told that part.

Who's telling this bloody story?

Who’s telling this bloody story?

Then, when she tells about shooting a neighbor’s pet peacock by mistake and serving it to him for dinner, Jennifer literally steals the punchline as Clarissa is beginning to say it: “Well, I didn’t buy it at Harrods!” Fortunately Clarissa has a chance to tell the anecdote fully in Cooking with the Two Fat Ladies; at any rate, she doesn’t seem put out by the interruptions.

It even looks a bit like Clarissa.

It even looks a bit like Clarissa.

TRADEMARKS: There is an AGA in the kitchen. Jennifer puts anchovies in her rabbit stew and praises the flavor contribution they make to many dishes; Clarissa says, “Yes, I was surprised not to find them in your coffee cake.”

We get a good look at the Triumph logo on Jennifer’s bike.

 

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