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Tucson Weekly Media Mix

By Emil Franzi

APRIL 5, 1999:  CHEWING THE FAT: For those not yet up to speed on everything available on cable and satellite, there actually is something called The Food Channel: wall-to-wall cooking shows round the clock, and one is an absolute gem.

Two Fat Ladies features a pair of elderly British birds, both massively overweight, who live in rural England and tour the country on a motorcycle equipped with a sidecar. Clarissa Dickson Wright rides. Jennifer Paterson drives.

They're hardly into anything resembling nouvelle cuisine--in fact, they ain't even into the 20th century, bless 'em. When was the last time you saw anybody on a TV cooking show use lard, let alone elaborate on the merits of "a mitten of pork"? (For the uninitiated, the latter is a bowl lined with bacon and layered with strips of pork, herbed stuffing and more bacon, and topped with a crust of--you guessed it--bacon.)

These two gals are genuinely politically--and gastronomically--incorrect. Lots of fat and lots of meat in myriad forms, from kidneys to game.

One recent episode featured the pair driving through the Scottish countryside, where they happened across some bird hunters. "Have you any more guns?" was one lady's surprising query. Next thing you see are the two shotgun-clad chefs blasting into the brush...and then back in the kitchen, demonstrating how to cook the grouse they bagged. Hint: lots and lots of bacon wrapped around the breast meat.

The delectable banter makes the rest of the show. For example, an innocent lesson on the making of Edwardian finger sandwiches might lead to the anecdotal fact that Queen Alexandra "was such a great lady, she even allowed King Edward's favorite mistress to see him on his deathbed."

"I believe she was Camilla's great-grandmother."

"Seems to run in the family."

With such a winning combination of indulgences, the show is earning a rabid following. When it turned up as a question on the new Hollywood Squares, no doubt remained that it had gone, well, big. But as with all human spectacles, a word of caution: do not necessarily try these recipes at home. The caloric quotient of many of the dishes here are for dedicated professionals only.

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