This has to be one of the silliest shows ever to pose as a food documentary on the BBC. Restaurant critic Giles Coren and comedian Sue Perkins explore different ages of English cuisine by restricting themselves to the diet of that era for one week. They weigh and measure themselves before the experience and seek medical advice on how bad that historic diet will be for them.
Giles, who looks pretty fit, apparently has a higher body mass index than one would have thought, while Sue’s dubious claim is that she’s nominally a vegetarian, despite the massive amounts of meat she’s willing to ingest in furtherance of historical accuracy. What’s surprising is that some of these historic diets, despite massive amounts of calories, haven’t killed them. In fact in some eras, Giles has lost weight while Sue actually gets a little closer to her ideal weight.
Now usually the two are eating what the wealthy of that period would have been eating. The poor probably would have been eating a diet of bread and drippings, although many meals, like pottage, would have been eaten by poor and rich. The poor probably wouldn’t have had venison pottage, however.
Obviously the Regency episode to me is the most amusing and it’s quite fun to see Giles and Sue go over the top, especially the sight of Sue being dragged along the floor, exclaiming: “I shall be your wife!”
One quibble I have with the episode—I’ve never heard of white soup being made with macaroni and looking so un-white. I suppose, however, that considering how inexact Regency cookbooks were, there was a lot of latitude with the ingredients.