Anyone Enjoying "The Supersizers" on the Food Network?
My wife and I found the show by accident, partly because it has a misleading title. "The Supersizers" has nothing to do with supersizing food portions today.
The premise of the show is that the two stars (Giles Coren, a restaurant critic in London, and Sue Perkins, a comedienne/actress in London) eat their way through history. Each episode concentrates on a specific time period (the French Revolution, the 50s, Ancient Rome, etc.) and the two stars dress appropriately for the period and eat the foods that were common during those periods. Each episode has experts on the particular period who comment on the dress and food of that time.
Before beginning the food regimen for a particular period, both visit their doctors, who take various tests to use to see how such diets affect them.
We are finding this to be a very highly entertaining, witty and informative show.
Give it shot, see what you think...
I have watched a number of their programs. It's highly entertaining and they do underscore how meat-centric the diet of middle and upper class Britons (and westerners) was until fairly recently. A typical middle class Victorian family spent as much money on their butcher's bill as the on the wages for their servants.
Mind you, the Supersizers are not eating the typical diet of the poor which would have been quite different.
If I have any complaints is that several of the episodes feature food that are a little too dramatic, even for the day. Serving boiled calf's head to the dinner table wouldn't have been a regular occurence (wouldn't have happened in most households in the first place).
re: Roland Parker
Where did all the calves heads go? There are as many heads as there are hearts, livers and tails.
I imagine that in pre-industrial times, most of the heads - cow, calf, and pig - ended up on someone's table, or at least their kitchen. Pigs head is the classic ingredient in Mexican posole, even if modern Americans only imitate it with a chunk of shoulder.
In many cases this program uses documented menus. As such, some formal dinner, or special occasion in a wealthy household is more likely to be written about, than the everyday meal of a farm family. Seems though that each episode has at least one lower-class meal. I think it was Victorian episode where Sue volunteered in a soup kitchen. I suspect each era has its own research difficulties. In the more recent ones the problem is selecting the highlights, in earlier ones information is harder come by, especially recipes that give some sort of quantities.
True. But cooking an animal's head and using the resulting broth/juice/meat in another dish is one thing, while serving the entire cooked head at the dinner table is another thing. Middle class British Victorians were fastidious people who set great store by appearances and an entire boiled calf's head at the table would have been deemed coarse and vulgar.
I'm aware that the meals were recreated from documented menus but therein lies the dangers. A number of menus listed in the early cookbooks or ladies' magazines of the time were highly ambitious and unrealistic and rarely attempted, and a featured menu does not represent an entire era just as a single cookbook today doesn't represent modern 21st century American cooking, so what's shown to us by Supersizers should not be taken as gospel for everyday eating of the time. Still, it's highly entertaining and a humourous insight.
re: Roland Parker
All points well taken.
But I give them credit for at least doing some research into the diets of the different eras they depict (most of the episodes focus on Great Britain, but not all). They had to start somewhere for the show to work, and I think they did pretty well
That, combined with the tongue-in-cheek aspect of the show, makes for some very enjoyable watching.