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TV Interview

Giles Coren ('The Supersizers Eat...')

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Giles Coren ('The Supersizers Eat...')
Notorious food critic and famously rude emailer Giles Coren returns to our screens next week in The Supersizers Eat.... Coren and comic cohort Sue Perkins will relive the eating habits and lifestyles of eras such as the '80s, the French Revolution and medieval England. We caught up with Coren to ask what it's like to eat a sow's uterus, discuss the rise and fall of Pop Tarts, and find out whether he's fan of traditional cookery shows.

How does this series of Supersizers differ from the first one?
"In the first series, we wanted to do the history of food and just picked the time periods at random. So we had to look back and find six gaps that we missed. So we picked the Middle Ages, the 1920s and the 1980s. But then we said, 'f**k, what else is there?' You can't do something like the famous 1630s, no-one really gives a stuff. So we decided to go abroad and we've done the French Revolution and ancient Rome. I was all for going way back to the Stone Age and clubbing Sue with a stick, taking her back to the cave and eating berries, but they went for Rome instead. It's exactly the same mayhem and social history, with me and Sue messing around, pulling silly faces. It's a bizarrely successful programme."

As a food journalist, do you like the fact this show looks at food in a less conventional way than people like Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver?
"Is it possible for cooking to be more interesting that Gordon and Jamie? Can such a thing exist?! Yeah, Jamie and Gordon have their terrific qualities, but neither are intellectuals. I mean I love food programmes. I love Nigella more than anyone, she's a beautiful woman, winking at the camera and making delicious chocolate cake. Jamie's all 'a little bit woah, a little bit way', Gordon's all 'f**k, f**k f**k' and they are great. That's all fine, but when we sit down with a steak and kidney pie, I want to know how this food came about. That's the sort of thing that interests me. It's a bit more grown up, it doesn't have recipes... it doesn't have a book, unfortunately! But people only have so much tolerance of food and being told, 'this is how you make a pie in the 1750s'. I mean, like anyone gives a f**k!""

In the first episode you relive the '80s. What's your opinion of '80s food?
"In the '80s we try to look at the major changes in that era. Innovations were processed food and a lot more frozen food, stuff like Gold Blend instant coffee, the first Pret A Manger opening. The social history aspect is all the 'rah-rah-rah, make loads of money, no time to relax, no time for food' aspect. We cover things like the rise and fall of the Pop Tart, which was basically a carpet slipper full of jam that you put in a toaster - they were huge in the '80s!"

What are the best and worst things you ate during the series?
"The best thing was probably in the medieval period, something called a cockentrice. It's an imaginary bird, which is made by sowing the front end of a turkey on the back end of a piglet. They stuffed it and roasted it, and it is delicious. You get the best bit of both animals, the turkey breast and the pigs arse! It looks f**king freaky. In the same meal, we also probably got the most disgusting thing, which was peacock. It was dry and clearly peacocks put more effort into how they look than their breast meat. Other things with the yuck factor were a sow's uterus, mice - but we didn't eat those - and also we had duck's tongue, which was gristly and slightly fishy. And sow's udder paté was also disgusting, so much so that the poor 6ft6 cameraman passed out at the smell."

What do you think people will remember food-wise when they look back at this decade?
"This decade has seen the burgeoning of the obesity crisis. We're basically eating too much. Food became cheap in the western world and the poor as a result became fat. The poor and uneducated have been given unlimited access to food and are scoffing willy-nilly. People are dying in their 50s from heart disease and this, I think, will be remembered as a great historical tragedy. When historians look back at the past decade, they'll see men on motorbikes carrying giant wheels of melted cheese, delivered to people who sit in their basements, slowly building up to 23 stone, bursting and killing themselves. The supermarkets packed aisle after aisle with fizzy drinks, massive sacks of potato chips, complete freedom of the market and complete excess. That's what I think it will be remembered for."

Will we see you and Sue back for a third series?
"We don't want to do any more food. We've done it all now and we don't want to wreak any more havoc on our bodies now. Sue and I can't just keep sitting at tables, pulling faces and making smart remarks about the food. So we would like to do a programme about someone else. The first thing would be a series about manners and etiquette, which will be called Sue And Giles On Good Behaviour. The BBC has that in front of them and will hopefully commission it soon, as long as people watch Supersizers - which is a great show with a s**t title. You can quote me on that."

The Supersizers Eat... begins Monday at 9pm on BBC Two.

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