If forced to pick my favorite cooking show of all time, it would be The Two Fat Ladies. There was something magical about the style and banter of Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright. They had a tremendous love of food, evident from their rather noticeable girth. They always had a good story. Their food was as rich and substantial as they were.
Alas, Jennifer Paterson died. As noted in an earlier post, she died as she lived, drinking champagne and indulging in caviar and fois gras. An unapologetic smoker, she resigned herself to the the fact that she had greatly contributed to her demise, but she wouldn’t have had it any other way.
The girls loved their food and weren’t afraid of dispatching the food themselves. Here is an exchange between the Two Fat Ladies over peacock.
JENNIFER: I ate peacock once. It’s rather like pheasant.
CLARISSA: It is a bit. I once shot one in my sprouting broccoli. It was an accident, of course. Rabbits were always getting into my garden, so I used to throw up the kitchen window and shoot them from there. But one day, what I thought was a rabbit turned out to be a peacock.
JENNIFER: Whose peacock was it?
CLARISSA: It belonged to the people next door.
JENNIFER: They must have been pleased!
CLARISSA: Well, I asked them to dinner and we had a rather good bottle of wine. Then they said, this is very interesting, what is it?” Well, I said, I didn’t buy it at Harrod’s.
There is a story about the woman who owned my house before me. Opal was well known in Shirley for hunting from the kitchen like Clarissa. In fact there is a small hole in the porch screen that is rumored to be the opening for Opal’s gun.
Here is an uncharacteristic vegetarian dish.
Wild Mushroom Pancakes
FOR THE BATTER:
1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
7/8 cup milk
salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound fresh wild mushrooms
4 tablespoons butter
Make the batter, adding seasoning to taste, and leave to stand for at least 1 hour.
Melt the butter in a frying pan and cook the mushrooms until they are wilted and all liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool.
Mix together the batter and mushrooms. Heat a frying pan, put in a smidgen of oil, and fry pancakes about 2 inches in diameter. Eat.
So, make up a batch of these pancakes, cook up a big steak and pop the top on nice bottle of champagne and toast the memory of the TWO fat ladies.