Posh Nosh (2003)
Genre: Cooking Show parody
Well, it’s the day after Thanksgiving here in the US and I’m sure some people are still in a turkey stupor. But for those of you who’ve managed to regain conciousness or those who don’t celebrate the holiday, here’s a little treat in the form of a screamingly funny satire of all those overdone cooking shows which most of us don’t have a hope in hell of actually being able to replicate what they show us. Nor, from what I’ve heard of some Rachel Ray recipes, would we want to.
“Posh Nosh,” starring Arabella Weir and Richard E. Grant as The Honorable Minty and Simon Marchmont, was a BBC series of 8 episodes – some sites state there were 9 but I can’t find any sign of the AWOL one anywhere. It parodies cooking shows and elitism food – Minty Marchmont often uses extremely inaccessible, yet amazingly expensive, ingredients (like a £45,000 whole sturgeon) while smilingly telling the viewer that she and Simon just got back from their annual stocking up trip to Greece or Provence. The cooking explanations are chock full of silly euphemisms for how to prepare the ingredients – one never peels one’s vegetables, one embarrasses them while stock is annoyed (annoying times vary) rather than cooked down. And when draining vegetables, give them a frisson – they like that.
While Minty does all the hard work – just watch the opening credits to see how the work load is divided, Simon is in charge of the wine selection. His overblown, artistically nonsensical descriptions of the £40 bottles – which he insists the guests of the couple’s high brow restaurant, “The Quill and Tassel,” buy to go along with their meals – are a lesson in funny. As is his devotion to their dog, Sam, and his Spanish tennis coach Jose Luis. No, no, not the dog’s tennis coach, Simon’s tennis coach. Also watch for the ridiculous website addresses such as www.sexmexavacado.com and www.arthurleggbourkersfarmnearbanbury.co.uk which will flash across the screen to advertise where the Marchmonts get some of their ingredients.
One thing that non UK watchers might not catch onto is the fact that Minty is lower middle class desperately trying to fit into the aristocratic world of her husband, plummy voiced Simon. Minty can drop a name with the best of the wannabes while Simon curls his lip at her pronunciations. These two definitely have a dysfunctional marriage which becomes more glaringly obvious as the episodes progress. However, I think Simon would be more lost were Minty to take his mother’s Aga and go. Minty also seems quite aware of what her husband’s true sexual inclinations are but willing to put up with the tennis coaches for her title. And she can drop her own insults almost as well as Simon. (‘Lard makes me think of fat people in the co-op – perhaps you’re one of them.’ ‘Buy stock cubes if you have no self esteem.’)
Weir and Grant are spot on and pitch perfect in their roles. And the comedy works so well because of its subtly. Grant delivers his scathing lines like a stiletto between the ribs while Minty is always wittering on about the gifts her mother-in-law gave her – all without seeming to realize that they are things one would give one’s cook, not one’s daughter-in-law. Grant also parodies his role in “Withnail and I” during the sauces episode in which he rants and stumbles about the kitchen. And do watch all the episodes through to the end to catch the faux short promotional pitches for things “from the Posh Nosh range” of (overpriced and pretentious) fine foods.
So take a break from the leftovers, escape the in-laws and head over to youtube where two or three fine people have loaded the 8 episodes for your viewing pleasure. They’re only 9 minutes each and the time will fly.