Britain has given the world some of its very funniest television — Black Books, the IT Crowd, and QI are just a few of my favorites. The UK is also the source of some truly wonderful food TV like The Great British Bake Off and everything Nigella Lawson has ever done. Both of those come together in Posh Nosh, a sharp, brutal, and overwhelmingly funny parody of all the worst elements of TV cooking shows — and if you’re not watching it already, you should be.
Posh Nosh is a short series of eight 10-minute episodes of a fake cooking show that originally aired in 2003, starring the always wonderful Richard E. Grant as the Honorable Simon Marchmont, a smug, stuck-up aristocrat, restaurateur, and cooking-show host. He’s a Downton Abbey villain with a subscription to Saveur and a thinly veiled loathing of his wife. His wife, Minty, is a name-dropping, middle-class social climber played by actress Arabella Weir, who also wrote the show.
Together the Marchmonts run a fine-dining restaurant and film Posh Nosh out of their country estate. Well, Minty does all the actual cooking, while Simon drinks wine, shows off his sophisticated palate, and nitpicks and rolls his eyes at everything his wife does wrong.
Simon groans orgasmically while tasting food and describes every ingredient as though it’s sexy. At one point he actually slut-shames olive oil. Minty Marchmont is basically Ina Garten’s evil twin. She embodies Ina’s warm smile and welcoming tone while she delivers lines like, “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a shop-bought cake, if you don’t really love your children.”
I love British comedies and food TV, and Posh Nosh grabbed me from the first moment. The opening credits are a work of genius. They’re arty and pretentious, with a faux pastoral aesthetic. “What care I for my house and my land?” a singer trills, while Simon strolls through his orchards in a white linen suit. “What care I for my treasure?” the song continues, as Minty chops food in the kitchen. Simon sits under a tree on his expansive estate, thoughtfully eating from a bowl. Minty is still in the kitchen, sweating over a huge pot. Simon strolls languidly across the lawn, while Minty trots after him, trying to keep up.
In the first episode, the Marchmonts exercise their noblesse oblige by making lunch for Barry, a builder working on their house. Barry does not really want lunch — he just wants them to pay him for renovating Simon’s dressing room. But the Marchmonts did not ask, because Barry clearly needs their help (and to see how much better they are).
“He usually eats something like this,” Minty explains, revealing a beautiful plate of crispy, golden-battered fish and chips. It looks delicious. Simon is repulsed.
The Marchmonts embody all the worst stereotypes about food celebrities. They’re snobby and out of touch. Their recipes are wildly complicated and always require impossible ingredients and extraordinarily expensive equipment. They speak in incomprehensible jargon and act like everyone should know what they mean. They’re horrible, and they’re hilarious.
Grant and Weir are brilliant actors with amazing timing, and Posh Nosh is one of the most quotable TV shows I’ve ever seen. When my husband and I talk, half our inside jokes are just lines from Posh Nosh. (Our favorite is to say, “If you don’t have an Aga …” and then trail off with Minty Marchmont’s bewildered expression, as though the idea of not owning a $40,000 stove is literally incomprehensible.)
There are eight episodes and each is just under 10 minutes long. You could watch the entire series in an hour-and-a-half, and I highly recommend doing that as soon as possible.
Watch now: Posh Nosh on YouTube
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