I was digging through Hulu for old episodes of Kitchen Nightmares -- the best TV show to fold laundry to, bar none -- when I found it: my new television obsession.
The Supersizers Go... is shamefully hidden deep within Hulu's bowels, when it should be front and center. It's far more than just a food or cooking TV show. It's not simply an idle way to pass an hour, like flipping between Chopped during the tedious commercial breaks.
It's a sharp, smart, funny look at the history of food through the ages, examined decade by decade and era by era. So of course it's from the BBC.
I understand that the 12-episode show was aired briefly (and with commercials) on the Cooking Channel in early 2012, but watching it commercial-free on Hulu is surely more enjoyable -- so I'm not too sad about only finding it now.
Food writer Giles Coren and comedian Sue Perkins are the history teachers you wish you always had. The seamless way that the show -- helped along by Perkins and Coren's exposition -- weaves together historical events and food is a fascinating way to explore the past. A typical 5,000-calorie-a-day diet during the days of the French Revolution is interesting enough, but the show goes beyond the simple, titillating gluttony of a Versailles spread to provide context and perspective for how and why those 5,000 calories were consumed.
Would you eat a breast of peacock, or neat's tongue with caul, or Camembert in aspic? These are the foods that Coren and Perkins work their way through each episode, complete in the attire and lodging of the period. Medieval times? They live and dine in a castle, while Coren sports heavy chain mail armor. Post-war 1950s England? They take their meals in a suburban tract home furnished in Formica and entertain Coren's boss at a dinner party that quickly escalates into drunken shenanigans.
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Each episode focuses on a single period in British history -- from Roman times and vomitoriums straight up through the 1980s and cement mixer cocktails -- and sees Coren and Perkins live that period for a week straight. Much of the humor and interest comes from seeing the effects this week-long historical exposure has on modern-day Britons. Constipation is a constant concern during the Restoration, lethargy and hunger (for Perkins, at least) during the diet-happy 1920s, caffeine headaches during the coffee-and-tea-free Medieval years.
The era which Perkins and Coren eventually decided had the best food (and fun) to offer surprised me, but I'll leave that for you to find out on your own. It's too enjoyable of a journey to spoil.