The Two Fat Ladies were something of a staple on BBC food tv, being entertaining comic interludes with a real emphasis on UK regional cookery that’s pretty traditional. However, this is not immediately apparent in the version of the cookbook Cooking with the Two Fat Ladies I found as it’s labeled “as seen on Food Network”. I don’t recall Food Network ever picking up this series, and even if they did, that does a disservice to the content of the show which is unashamedly old-school British (with some mentions of Welsh specific things now and again).
The introduction by one of the tv series’ original producers mentions that the hosts actually had some controversial positions they weren’t afraid to share. Apparently one of the hosts actually said/wrote that a sign of the end of an empire was when it started to favor vegetarianism, and the other one was equally anti-vegetarian and anti-healthy diet. Both Clarissa and Jennifer have professional food experience but at pretty high social levels (‘this recipe is from/is a favorite of Lord/Lady whatever’ ) which influences their attitudes even if the food itself seems pretty country/peasant now.
The book in general is an interesting read but not very practical for use. Firstly, there are quite a few recipes that include some pretty obscure things even if you are in the UK, such as laver bread (not really bread, that’s a very specific seaweed product from the Welsh coast) that apparently works well in a potato cake. There’s also a kind of entertaining rejection of nearly everything modern grocery store, and an emphasis on using local fish mongers, butchers, etc. The sheer snobbery is almost funny, and the emphasis on the hyper local is actually in step with the trendiness of localized cuisine. But this is from 1997, well before that kind of thing was cool.
It’s also kind of entertaining to see things like diy luau right next to what’s basically a hot-dog salad plate and a potato salad. The one place where the snobbery isn’t quite as direct ironically is in the fruits/veggies chapter, which retains the hyper local fresh aspect but notes directly, “Don’t be suckered by the prettiness myth. In the vegetable, beauty is only skin deep.” There is a good bit or lard, cream, pork product, and/or cheese in this section, but the presence of cherries jubilee in the same chapter as bubble and squeak sort of keeps the quirkiness of the whole thing going.