Score! This past weekend I was thrilled to find a used DVD box set of the entire Two Fat Ladies TV series in mint condition at the always-amazing Sonic Boom on Spadina Avenue. For years Vince and I have looked at all the various online and streaming sources for the Ladies but no one carries the entire series, at least not at a reasonable price, and it remains out of print as far as I can see.
So, what more could possibly be written about the phenomenon that was Two Fat Ladies?
In case you were living under a rock in the 1990s, Two Fat Ladies were a British cooking duo consisting of Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright, who showcased their talents in a massively popular TV show. The TV show was later followed by their cookbooks, videos, autobiographies and other marketing paraphernalia. The TFL show was wildly popular in the U.K. and also really caught on in North America, which was surprising.
Many will probably think we’re weird for loving such an uncool, cheesy, old-fashioned show, but the episodes were glorious! The Ladies were refreshingly non-PC and such a breath of fresh air; they really didn’t care about conventions or what other people thought of them or their cooking methods. Yes, they cooked with lard and butter – lots and lots of it. These two unconventional cooks travelled the British countryside in a sidecar-equipped motorcycle and prepared traditional dishes with an emphasis on strong flavours, fresh ingredients, and more than just a pat of butter. While their high-calorie meal selections were probably not the healthiest thing to eat, they looked utterly delicious and must have tasted fantastic.
Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright took a lot of criticism for their style of unhealthy cooking. Optomen Television in the UK, though, had this to say in the Ladies defense:
The Ladies are cooks not chefs – they reject the pretensions and elaborations of haute cuisine and are aggressively unfashionable, delighting in such ingredients as clotted cream, lard and fatty meats.
The Two Fat Ladies have now both passed on, gone but certainly not forgotten, at least not by me. Jennifer Paterson died of lung cancer on August 10, 1999, one month after diagnosis, and Clarissa Dickson Wright died of pneumonia March 15, 2014.