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The Fat Ladies are cooking

They will show you how to make a jolly meat loaf, gorged with several kinds of meat, plus bacon banded across the top like the Union Jack's stripes.

They will show you how to knock up a Gallett des Rois (that's an almond tart, mind you, and "knocking up" is a baking technique).

But as mouth-watering as each dish turns out to be, the cooks, known jointly as the Two Fat Ladies, are no less delectable or bountifully presented.

Now Two Fat Ladies, a hit in its native England, has come to the Colonies courtesy of cable's Food Network, where it airs Friday at midnight, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m.

What characterizes the Ladies' recipes? "It's domestic cooking, not flibbertigibbet restaurant cooking," says Jennifer Paterson, who sports black-rim glasses and an ultra-pr-r-r-roper speaking style that pays comic homage to Hermione Gingold. "This is food for the family to sit down and eat, rather than a chef clustering things on top of each other, and you don't know what you've got."

"The whole process of cooking things and serving things should be FUN," pronounces Clarissa Dickson Wright. "So much of cooking now, you know, they take it all so seriously."

No danger of that here. And do these culinary swells stew over calories or cholesterol? Fat chance!

"It's the last taboo, isn't it _ fat?" chortles Paterson, who gives her weight as 14{ stone, then saucily converts it for Americans as "much too much."

"Two Fat Ladies is merely an adequate descriptive phrase," declares Wright, who specifies her weight no more specifically than "I'm fat!," and appears to be even fatter than her co-star.

"It's all the fault of the Duchess of Windsor," rails the sixtysomething Paterson, her face pinched disapprovingly. "She came up with that stupid line, "You can never be too rich or too thin.' And America took it to their heart."

"We're not saying that everybody should be fat," Wright, age 50, quickly adds _ "just that everybody should enjoy themselves. Two Fat Ladies is about freedom. Having a good time. Women misbehaving badly.

"It's a cookery show with anarchy and a motorbike."

So look for Jennifer in the saddle of the Wild Ones-genre Triumph and Clarissa improbably stuffed into its sidecar, as these Spice Girls chuff through the placid British countryside looking to create tasty fare as well as a little mischief.

It's a ride they've been preparing for all their lives.

Wright, whose father was surgeon to the royal household, has been a lawyer, a pheasant farmer, a caterer and a two-bottles-of-gin per-day alcoholic. Now in recovery, she operates a cookbook shop in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Paterson's footloose past includes a fetchingly un-fat adolescence lolling with the glamor set in Sicily, stints in Portugal as a nanny for wealthy families and in London working on the TV show Candid Camera, and a job as boardroom cook for the British magazine the Spectator _ for which she now writes a cooking column.

She had also ridden motorcycles for years. But until Two Fat Ladies, never with a sidecar.

"A sidecar fools you," she confides. "They wanted us coming down this road and stopping right at the camera, and I lost complete control and hit the camera. Then I pulled away, and I crashed us into two flagpoles."

But viewers need not worry. The Ladies reach each storybook-lovely destination with blithe dispatch.

One cater-caper takes them to a girls' school in Cornwall, where, first off, they marvel at the kitchen where they'll prepare their so-called "Hedgehog" meatloaf and chicken breasts with walnut aillade.

"Look at the size of it!" says Clarissa, gazing about the cavernous chamber.

"Brrr-r-r-obdingnag!" Jennifer trills.

The two of them finish one another's sentences, egg each other on and crack each other up, whether it's on TV or during a recent interview in Manhattan over lunch, when they are asked what it is they like about cooking.

Clarissa: "It's the attention to detail and the playing about with tastes _

Jennifer: "_ and smells _"

Clarissa: "_ and the shopping _"

Jennifer: "_ just doing something slightly differently, or making something new _"

Clarissa: "_ when you haven't got something you want, so you use something else, and then you find it's good. Or it's disgusting."

Jennifer: "One or the other."

Whereupon they seize other diners' glances with a rousing shared chuckle.

Clearly, they go together like bubble and squeak. Yet this association is a recent one.

"Clarissa and I met once in Tuscany at a luncheon party," Paterson says, "but that was about five years ago."

Then, in early 1996, Jennifer joined a mutual friend, BBC producer Patricia Llewellyn, for lunch.

"As Jennifer rode up on her motor bike, Pat said, "I have a vision,' and she rang me up," Clarissa recalls. "So we all had lunch together. Then the BBC commissioned a pilot. The first day taping, it was as though we had cooked together all our lives."

They've been dining out on Two Fat Ladies ever since. Viewers will discover it's a riotous feast.

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