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REVIEW-O-RAMA

When TV chefs kept cool

August 03, 2008|Robert Lloyd

"TWO FAT LADIES" (Acorn Media DVD). This delightful cooking show, which ran in Britain from 1996 to 1998 and became popular on the Food Network, is at last served up on domestic DVD. Unlikely even at the time, unfashionably large stars Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson have still less to do with current TV cookery, with its urgency and noise, its rock-star chefs, their flare-ups and meltdowns. The modern show it most resembles is Gordon Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares" (the British version) for its travelogue aspects, celebration of regionalism, uncomplicated dishes and overemphatic disdain for vegetarians. "To the kitchen" was as much of a catchphrase as they mustered as they traveled Britain, cooking for priests, singers, Boy Scouts, farmworkers, aristocrats and men who clean up after elephants. They cooked not to challenge the palate but to satisfy cravings. The show is all bound up with tradition -- the church, the manor house, the family farm, and with the women's own lives. (Paterson died of lung cancer amid the third series.) They are full of wit and facts (that Catherine the Great nearly died of eating too many artichokes on her wedding day is something I did not know).

-- Robert Lloyd

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