Several years ago there was a series done by BBC entitled The Supersizers Go… (fill in with name of an era). This is a brilliant series about history, food and the customs and etiquette that surrounds it put together to create a piece of both informative and wonderfully amusing entertainment!
I began watching it first a couple of years ago. I saw one episode and quite enjoyed it but forgot about it again and didn’t watch any more. It wasn’t until relatively recently when I by chance happened to come across them again and started to get more into it, watching all the rest of the episodes (which are all on youtube. Yay!) and enjoying them thoroughly!
Food critic Giles Coren and comedian Sue Perkins “travel back” to different eras where they get to more or less live the lives of people back then and, primarily, eat the food they would have eaten. Covering 2000 years, from the ancient Egyptians up till the 80’s, they try out food from the Victorian era, the roaring 20’s, the Restoration, live like Louis XVI and Marie Antionette for a few days before trying the life of a revolutionist during the French Revolution, experiencing rationing in wartime Britain to mention a few examples. And of course, our beloved Regency era.
Personally I have greatly enjoyed watching these. They are funny and amusing as well as being full of interesting facts and information. The food obviously is the main focus and purpose of them but since a person can’t eat ALL day Sue and Giles also get to try out and experience activities and occupations that people in these times would have done. Of course doing them all in costume!
And seeing the effect a week of each of these eras has on a modern persons health and constitution can be really rather interesting.
I find it terribly interesting to learn more about what people actually would have eaten during different periods through history. I love everything about history, but to me the little every day things have always had a great fascination. It’s one of the reason I like historic fashion, seeing how fashion changed and was influenced by society and events that were taking place at the time (other reasons as to why I like that obviously being that they are beautiful, pretty as well as fun to make and wear), and I realise the same thing is true with regards to food. In a way food is also a kind of fashion. It changes and evolves. During some periods one would eat specific things and consider them a delicacy, but for someone today it just seems gross and disgusting! Other factors apart from changing tastes also play a part in what was eaten and why. If there is a war on for example you might not have all the ingredients you desire for a dish, and so you have to make do, be creative and come up with new alternatives. All this I find very fascinating and interesting. Of course in these episodes alot of the food and dishes are those that were enjoyed only by the smaller part of the population, the wealthy people. Because just as with clothes that is where we see more changes and “fashions”. But we do get glimpses of the diet of the less fortunate too.
So I’ve enjoyed these, and many times mentioned them to my family or quoted some fact that I learnt from it. I never quite got anyone of them interesting in watching them though. But now this winter Swedish television has made their own version of this series: Historieätarna (the history eaters). Taking the exact same concept used in BBC’s Supersizers Go… this series did the same thing. Two people (Swedes this time, Erik Haag and Lotta Lundgren) travel back exploring 6 different eras of Swedens history, dressing the part and trying out its culinary achievements.
Much as I enjoyed the British one I have to say the Swedish one was even better! I watched this with the rest of my family and we were in stitches of laughter most of the time! Largely thanks to the wonderful Erik Haag who is absolutely fantastic!
I also did really enjoy seeing some of the things that are more close to home. Since most of the things I watch or read these days are set in England, America or continental Europe it is sometimes very nice to see something that is actually here, at home. Also the fact that many of the guests on the show, people who are there for just little parts, joining in a dinner or so, were many that I recognise and were familiar with (them all being famous here in Sweden) was fun to me.
Unfortunately Historieätarna is not to be found on youtube, so it’s not as easy to watch (plus it is in Swedish so I guess it wouldn’t be of interest to many anyway), but The Supersizers are all on youtube, so if you fancy a dose of history and food I think you should check it out!
The food I grant you is often terribly disgusting, and I had to turn my eyes from the screen on more than just a couple of occasions! I confess there isn’t alot that I would voluntarily eat. Watching these it has become clear to me (I knew it before of course, but it has become even more obvious) that if ever that day comes when someone invents a time machine which could take me back to visit some of the eras in history that I would love to experience, as a vegetarian I would struggle. A lot!
Would you be brave enough to try out food from times like these? I’d definitely give some of it a go, but I think I’ll pass on all the intestines and animal body parts if I may!