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I watched a couple of Mary Berry cooking series in the spring around Easter. My PBS Passport (a benefit of belonging to my local PBS station) offered up a few more, but they seemed more appropriate for autumn, so I saved them for this time of year.
Mary Berry’s Simple Comforts is six half-hour episodes, beginning with “Paris” and ending with “Winter Woodland.” It aired on BBC in September 2020, so I assume it was mostly filmed before the pandemic. The timing was perfect since we were pretty focused on home cooking and comfort food in the fall of 2020. I imagine that the tagline, at least, was recorded during the pandemic. “This is the food that makes you feel that everything will be all right.”
Mary Berry’s Absolute Favourites aired in Britain in 2015. The final two of eight episodes feature Christmas recipes and traditions. Earlier episodes give us glimpses of all the other seasons, from asparagus to root vegetables. I particularly enjoyed the episode called “The Herb Garden” since fresh herbs are my favorite thing to grow.
Mary Berry’s Country House at Christmas is a one-hour stand-alone special that aired in the UK on Christmas Day in 2018. She visited Harewood House in Yorkshire that was built in the 1760s and is the home of the 8th Earl of Harewood. Mary visits during the time when the house has been closed to the public in preparation for Harewood’s magical Christmas season displays. The seasonal recipes, fabulously imaginative decorations, and a Christmas carol at the end make Country House at Christmas a perfect celebratory show for this time of year.
I had to look up what it means when Mary Berry says, “Put it in the oven on 180 fan.” Apparently, convection ovens are common in the UK. She’s saying to set the oven to 180° Celsius and to turn on the convection fan.
After watching her make many rich dishes with butter and cream as well as luscious desserts, I also had to look up how Mary Berry stays so thin. The answer is portion control. Unfortunately, I have no control when it comes to foods like that, so my answer has to be that those kinds of foods make rare appearances in my life.
In a way, I’m surprised that I enjoy these shows as much as I do. I have yet to actually try a recipe. Mostly, I like the things that Mary gets up to outside of the kitchen — operating Tower Bridge, celebrating Diwali with a British family honoring their heritage, being pulled by huskies in Scotland, netting prawns, foraging for wild mushrooms, fly-fishing for trout, baking pizza in an outdoor oven, and a visit to Hampton Court to taste the Christmas goose that Henry VIII was served.
PBS has a teaser up for a new Mary Berry show that will be available to US audiences. Mary Berry’s Ultimate Christmas will premiere on December 19.
If those aren’t enough British cooking shows, head over to Netflix for the new season of The Great British Baking Show. I adored the 2022 cast.
I think the folks who participate in Weekend Cooking will enjoy these shows, so I’ll share this post with that link-up this week.