Friday, October 05, 2012

French Fry Diary 420: The Supersizers Go... Victorian

I caught this one on The Cooking Channel. "The Supersizers Go..." is a BBC show unfortunately inspired by Morgan Spurlock's Supersize Me. The hosts, food critic Giles Coren and radio personality Sue Perkins, pretend to visit a specific time period each episode and basically bitch about the grossness and nutritional non-value of that era.

I discovered the Victorian episode while flipping through the channels and discovered them talking fish and chips. I was hooked, pun unintended. I set the DVR for record when it was repeated later in the evening so I could write about it for you fine folks.

I liked Sue right away as she was also a fussy eater, maybe not a catastrophically picky one, but still a non-adventurous pain in the butt after my own heart. The first mention of the favorite fried food was regarding breakfast. The Victorians ate fried potatoes for breakfast, among other fattening items, fun stuff like mutton cutlets and smoked mackerel with anchovies, all of which they noted the calorie counts.

Among the oddities and goodies I learned in the show include that despite her horrible diet, Queen Victoria lived to the grand old age of eighty-one. I guess fried potatoes every day are a bad idea. I also learned, and this one's for the "Doctor Who" fans, that jelly babies, at least according to this show, date back to Victoria's era. Maybe The Doctor introduced them early.

Something else I've gotten from the episode is that in Victorian England, despite the fried potatoes and jelly babies, they ate a lot of disgusting crap. I'm talking cow's brains, heads, and ears, and that's just for starters. Luckily though, after dinner, Giles and Sue went out to a chippie for fish and chips, a street dish that originated at this time.

Fish and chips, again, according to the show, comes from Jewish immigration to the UK from Poland and Russia. Jewish families could not light a flame after sundown on Fridays so they battered and fried their fresh fish to make them last longer for the weekend. Again, Sue steals my heart by saying fish and chips is one of the greatest inventions of all ages, even over and above the electric lightbulb.

Probably one of the few dishes they actually enjoy throughout the episode, they sit and happily eat their fish and chips, from newspaper cones, with their hands. Yeah, baby. Potato croquettes pop up later, as do many courses of garbage dinners, a trip to a pub, and a Christmas meal. Trust me, the fish and chips were the highlight of this fairly educational romp.

No comments: