Editor's note: Please welcome Tara C. to the Food Lush writing staff! She's joining us and this is her first post. You can read her bio on the staff page.
By Tara C.
I recently stumbled across The Supersizers Go... on the Cooking Channel and my inner geek got excited right away. It’s food and history! Together! (My inner geek uses a lot of exclamation points.) In this BBC program, “British restaurant critic, Giles Coren, and comedienne, Sue Perkins, eat their way through history.” In each episode, they take on a different time period and spend a week eating the foods of that period. Destinations have included Medieval, Restoration, and Victorian England, as well as several decades within the past century. Giles and Sue even dress and engage in activities typical of the time. At the beginning and end of each episode, they visit a doctor to see how the diet impacts their health. For the most part, Giles describes the food while Sue chimes in with snarky comments.
The show definitely focuses on the diets of the affluent. I guess historically the diet of the masses wasn’t very interesting. Who wants to watch a show about gruel, gruel, porridge, followed by more gruel? On the Edwardian episode, dishes were over-the-top and ranged from magnificent to horrifying. Would you like a Peach Melba nestled between the wings of a swan sculpted from ice? Or goo squeezed from a barely cooked duck carcass, then mixed with organ meat and champagne? I know what I’m bringing to the next potluck!
What I find interesting is how history not only shapes the foods people eat, but the foods consumed can also shape history and culture. For instance, during the Restoration, water was not safe to drink in London so people (even babies) drank ale and wine all day long. Also, the aristocracy ate lots and lots of meat. Not surprisingly, people eating this no-water-lots-of-meat diet felt pretty sluggish. Probably not the best diet for doing anything productive, right?
Anyway, I can’t say that many episodes have inspired me to make the dishes featured, but I do find it pretty entertaining. It’s educational with a big dash of goofy. Right up my alley.
(Photo from: cookingchanneltv.com)