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Two Fat Ladies: A Valentine's Day Love Letter To Clarissa And Jennifer (VIDEOS)

02/14/2013 08:58 am ET
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Chefs We Love is a Valentine's Day tribute to those who have done great work in the culinary world -- to those who inspire us to not only eat well, but to try new things in our own kitchens. This Valentine's Day, we at HuffPost Taste want to share our love and respect for those who have most inspired and influenced our passion for cooking.

Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson are not the kind of women we watch on cooking shows every day. A far cry from the Sandra Lees and Rachael Rays of this world, the "Two Fat Ladies," as they were lovingly dubbed, did not have perfectly blown out hair, personal trainers or the benefit of particularly soft lighting. These two women rode a motorcycle with a side-car around the English countryside, made gleefully inappropriate jokes (often at vegetarians' expense) and ate with what can only be referred to as reckless abandon. Their BBC cooking show, "Two Fat Ladies" only ran from 1996-1999, but it left a pretty permanent mark on the way I cook for myself and loved ones, and the voracity with which I eat.

In 2012, The Cooking Channel did American cooks and eaters a favor by re-running episodes of "Two Fat Ladies." Although I had loved them before, this was a quick reminder that Jennifer and Clarissa's roasted geese and and strawberry shortcakes were something I cared deeply for and would go to battle over. Their commitment to eating the things they loved, whether medically sound or politically correct, has always struck me as a sort of lovely and personal revolution. I, like Jennifer and Clarissa, believe in using cream when cream is meant to be used and saving yogurt for breakfast. I believe in roasting meats and cracking jokes and even, occasionally, singing a song with a bartender as he makes you a caipirinha.

One of my favorite parts of the relationship these two women had was that Clarissa, a recovered alcoholic who abstained from alcohol, not only found a way to tolerate Jennifer's drinking and smoking, but found a way to incorporate it into her life in a way that wasn't detrimental to her own choices. These friends truly seemed to love each other, right down to their last day together, when Jennifer passed away in 1999. Her last request was a tin of caviar. Clarissa, unable to get it to her in time, ate the whole thing herself as a tribute to her friend. Listen guys, when I go out, one of you better eat a tin of caviar or at the very least a grilled cheese.

Here at HuffPost Taste, we tend to eat pretty healthfully -- if for no other reason, because we are hopelessly infatuated with vegetables. That makes us appreciate our goose fat and our gratined potatoes all the more. One of the most gracious meals I've ever eaten in someone else's home came out of a Two Fat Ladies cookbook. It was Pork Tenderloin Wrapped in Puff Pastry, a complex, time consuming, heart-stoppingly caloric dish that I will never forget. For these high butterfat memories and the ones still left to come, I'd like to say: thank you Clarissa and Jennifer, for being so fat, so lovely and so devilishly willing to tell a dirty joke. We adore you.

Now, just for fun, the Two Fat Ladies take the piss out of vegetarians for 2:59:

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