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10 Addictive British Reality Shows You Should Stream Right Now

There are seemingly endless streaming possibilities for American reality shows on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and beyond. Chances are you’ve wasted an entire weekend binge-watching a bunch of them already. But if you’re looking to break out of the stateside streaming reality series mold, don’t fret. There are plenty of reality TV shows out there that are similar to your favorite shows, but with subtle differences—like, say, people with English accents. So grab a spot of tea and start streaming.

1. FOR FANS OF CAKE WARS: THE GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW

While Cake Wars counts professionals among its contestants, The Great British Baking Show (also known as The Great British Bake Off) is made up of a gaggle of hopelessly endearing amateur bakers from across England and elsewhere. But there’s nothing unprofessional about this delightfully delicious British export. Each themed episode sees a group of contestants square off to impress expert baking judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry with their expertise in creating cakes, tarts, pies, puddings, and more.

The series made some major news last year when Berry and hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins exited the show, meaning it will go through some drastic changes next season when it airs on a new network. So now’s your chance to get whipped up by the classic lineup of the only reality cooking show where people can say “spotted dick” without anybody snickering.

2. FOR FANS OF HOUSE HUNTERS: ESCAPE TO THE COUNTRY

This long-running daytime television series is for people who love to daydream about what it would be like to live in a cottage in the English countryside without ever having to leave the comfort of their own, less-British home. Each episode focuses on a family who decides to retreat to a more rural setting, and is presented with three potential sites that could be the country house of their dreams, all within their specified budget.

The first two choices are usually blissful locales that adhere to their strict specifications like en suite bathrooms, multiple bedrooms, big kitchens, a farmside setting, or—gasp!—maybe even a garage. But the third is what the show calls the “mystery house,” which is a kind of residential wildcard filled with a wide range of controversial details like bedrooms on the ground floor or cavernous living rooms because the house was refurbished from a centuries-old church.

3. FOR FANS OF JACKASS: AN IDIOT ABROAD

If you're a fan of Ricky Gervais and his brash brand of humor, you’ll love this travelogue show that follows the comedian's supposedly dim-witted buddy, Karl Pilkington, as he crisscrosses the world and intentionally pushes the limits of his—and everybody else’s—comfort zones.

An Idiot Abroad is kind of like Jackass, but without the gross humor. Each episode features Gervais and his The Office co-creator Stephen Merchant sending Pilkington on missions to different locales, forcing their impressionable friend into the most achingly awkward fish-out-of-water situations imaginable. The Manchester native does everything from meeting a gorilla in Uganda and going to a “cuddle party” at a New Age retreat along Route 66 to learning the samba for Carnival in Rio and trying to go on a whale watch in Alaska, even though he’s susceptible to severe seasickness. Okay, so maybe the show does have some gross parts.

4. FOR FANS OF JERSEY SHORE: THE ONLY WAY IS ESSEX

You didn’t think America had cornered the market on trashy reality television, did you? If you ever tried to imagine what the tawdry exploits of the roommates of MTV’s Jersey Shore would sound like with nearly incomprehensible English accents, The Only Way is Essex is your show.

Now in its 20th season, the series is an endless parade of bartenders, club promoters, and would-be models getting drunk, fighting with each other, stabbing anyone they can in the back, and then doing it all over again in perfectly, semi-scripted ways. It’s so bad you can’t look away.

5. FOR FANS OF FLEA MARKET FLIP: DEALERS: PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS

If you're more into antiques than intoxicants, look no further than Dealers, a.k.a. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is. Each episode features professional, secondhand maestros who peruse yard sales, swap meets, and auction houses with a set budget, searching for a collection of items that will be compared to the hauls of fellow/rival antique dealers. They see which heap of collector’s items could be turned around to be sold at a bigger profit. Will a Victorian tea kettle be enough to secure a victory? Stream all the available episodes to find out.

6. FOR FANS OF SHARK TANK: FOUR ROOMS

If Shark Tank featured family heirlooms instead of start-up business owners looking for cash, it would be Channel 4's Four Rooms. The show features high-profile collectibles dealers bidding big money for priceless pieces being sold off by willing contestants—with a reality show twist, of course. Each seller enters a succession of four rooms to sit down and pitch their luxury item to a different dealer. Once a dealer’s offer is declined, the contestant can’t go back to a previous room. So if the dealer in the second room offered £20,000 for the guitar Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock and the dealer in the fourth room only offered to put up £10,000, the seller either has to take that lower five-figure offer or walk.

7. FOR FANS OF THE INCREDIBLE DR. POL: THE BIONIC VET

If you’re a fan of the animal care techniques seen on shows like The Incredible Dr. Pol, but want to see what more cutting-edge technology would be like when saving the lives of animals in need, look no further than The Bionic Vet. The series follows veterinarian Noel Fitzpatrick, whose practice includes a team of over 100 vets in Surrey. They attempt to help animals whose problems are so serious that euthanasia is often the only suggested alternative. The Bionic Vet is not for the faint of heart, especially for animal lovers, but it’s that rare reality series where there’s a sense of genuine drama behind it all. Plus, where else will you get to see a Border Collie’s pelvis being rebuilt after it was hit by a car, or what a reconstructed barn owl’s wing looks like?

8. FOR FANS OF COPS: MOTORWAY COPS

Bad (British) boys, bad (British) boys, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when the motorway cops come for you? Police shows are a reality TV staple, but Motorway Cops puts the perfect British spin on the normal recipe of televised law enforcement. The series showcases highway patrolmen and women from different jurisdictions, like the Central Motorway Police Group, busting perps attempting such unlawful acts as stealing copper wire off main highways and drug trafficking along backcountry thoroughfares.

9. FOR FANS OF WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE: HEIR HUNTERS

Technically, Heir Hunters is a show about probate researchers contacting relatives of the deceased, and when you put it like that, it sounds like a bummer. But if you describe the series as investigators searching the world over to contact hidden heirs to potential fortunes, it becomes a lot more enticing. The show tracks the researchers, whose job it is to race against time and find long lost relatives who stand to be the beneficiaries of the estates of people who didn’t leave behind a will. If they aren’t around to collect, the leftover estate goes to the British Treasury. This kind of thing is usually a footnote or a means to push the story along in a fictional drama, but Heir Hunters also attempts to humanize this potentially sensationalized story for reality TV consumption. With plenty of twists and turns, it’s like a mini detective series that usually has a happy ending.

10. FOR FANS OF UNDERCOVER BOSS: EXTREME APPRENTICES: SLUM SURVIVORS

The questionable premise of this British series rivals something like Undercover Boss. But instead of putting the boss in the center of learning the true ways of their particular business, Extreme Apprentices highlights the workers on the bottom rungs of their particular professional ladder. Apprentices in technical jobs like plumbers or mechanics are transplanted from their British gigs and given the same job in places like Nigeria or Mumbai to see if they can last for 10 days. No whiners need apply, especially when you see how horrific the plumbing is in some places.

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Food
The Gooey History of the Fluffernutter Sandwich

Open any pantry in New England and chances are you’ll find at least one jar of Marshmallow Fluff. Not just any old marshmallow crème, but Fluff; the one manufactured by Durkee-Mower of Lynn, Massachusetts since 1920, and the preferred brand of the northeast. With its familiar red lid and classic blue label, it's long been a favorite guilty pleasure and a kitchen staple beloved throughout the region.

This gooey, spreadable, marshmallow-infused confection is used in countless recipes and found in a variety of baked goods—from whoopie pies and Rice Krispies Treats to chocolate fudge and beyond. And in the beyond lies perhaps the most treasured concoction of all: the Fluffernutter sandwich—a classic New England treat made with white bread, peanut butter, and, you guessed it, Fluff. No jelly required. Or wanted.

There are several claims to the origin of the sandwich. The first begins with Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere—or, not Paul exactly, but his great-great-great-grandchildren Emma and Amory Curtis of Melrose, Massachusetts. Both siblings were highly intelligent and forward-thinkers, and Amory was even accepted into MIT. But when the family couldn’t afford to send him, he founded a Boston-based company in the 1890s that specialized in soda fountain equipment.

He sold the business in 1901 and used the proceeds to buy the entire east side of Crystal Street in Melrose. Soon after he built a house and, in his basement, he created a marshmallow spread known as Snowflake Marshmallow Crème (later called SMAC), which actually predated Fluff. By the early 1910s, the Curtis Marshmallow Factory was established and Snowflake became the first commercially successful shelf-stable marshmallow crème.

Although other companies were manufacturing similar products, it was Emma who set the Curtis brand apart from the rest. She had a knack for marketing and thought up many different ways to popularize their marshmallow crème, including the creation of one-of-a-kind recipes, like sandwiches that featured nuts and marshmallow crème. She shared her culinary gems in a weekly newspaper column and radio show. By 1915, Snowflake was selling nationwide.

During World War I, when Americans were urged to sacrifice meat one day a week, Emma published a recipe for a peanut butter and marshmallow crème sandwich. She named her creation the "Liberty Sandwich," as a person could still obtain his or her daily nutrients while simultaneously supporting the wartime cause. Some have pointed to Emma’s 1918 published recipe as the earliest known example of a Fluffernutter, but the earliest recipe mental_floss can find comes from three years prior. In 1915, the confectioners trade journal Candy and Ice Cream published a list of lunch offerings that candy shops could advertise beyond hot soup. One of them was the "Mallonut Sandwich," which involved peanut butter and "marshmallow whip or mallo topping," spread on lightly toasted whole wheat bread.

Another origin story comes from Somerville, Massachusetts, home to entrepreneur Archibald Query. Query began making his own version of marshmallow crème and selling it door-to-door in 1917. Due to sugar shortages during World War I, his business began to fail. Query quickly sold the rights to his recipe to candy makers H. Allen Durkee and Fred Mower in 1920. The cost? A modest $500 for what would go on to become the Marshmallow Fluff empire.

Although the business partners promoted the sandwich treat early in the company’s history, the delicious snack wasn’t officially called the Fluffernutter until the 1960s, when Durkee-Mower hired a PR firm to help them market the sandwich, which resulted in a particularly catchy jingle explaining the recipe.

So who owns the bragging rights? While some anonymous candy shop owner was likely the first to actually put the two together, Emma Curtis created the early precursors and brought the concept to a national audience, and Durkee-Mower added the now-ubiquitous crème and catchy name. And the Fluffernutter has never lost its popularity.

In 2006, the Massachusetts state legislature spent a full week deliberating over whether or not the Fluffernutter should be named the official state sandwich. On one side, some argued that marshmallow crème and peanut butter added to the epidemic of childhood obesity. The history-bound fanatics that stood against them contended that the Fluffernutter was a proud culinary legacy. One state representative even proclaimed, "I’m going to fight to the death for Fluff." True dedication, but the bill has been stalled for more than a decade despite several revivals and subsequent petitions from loyal fans.

But Fluff lovers needn’t despair. There’s a National Fluffernutter Day (October 8) for hardcore fans, and the town of Somerville, Massachusetts still celebrates its Fluff pride with an annual What the Fluff? festival.

"Everyone feels like Fluff is part of their childhood," said self-proclaimed Fluff expert and the festival's executive director, Mimi Graney, in an interview with Boston Magazine. "Whether born in the 1940s or '50s, or '60s, or later—everyone feels nostalgic for Fluff. I think New Englanders in general have a particular fondness for it."

Today, the Fluffernutter sandwich is as much of a part of New England cuisine as baked beans or blueberry pie. While some people live and die by the traditional combination, the sandwich now comes in all shapes and sizes, with the addition of salty and savory toppings as a favorite twist. Wheat bread is as popular as white, and many like to grill their sandwiches for a touch of bistro flair. But don't ask a New Englander to swap out their favorite brand of marshmallow crème. That’s just asking too Fluffing much.

Original image
REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images
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Food
A Famed French Chef Is Begging Michelin to Take Away His 3 Stars
Original image
REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images

A Michelin star, which rewards excellence in cooking, is a huge deal in the restaurant world. Aside from the prestige the ratings convey, they drive significant business: In 2010, Eater reported that a Michelin star could result in up to a 25 percent increase in sales for a restaurant. But the honor isn’t always welcome.

In a rare move, a French restaurateur is asking to be stripped of his three Michelin stars. Chef Sébastien Bras, whose family restaurant in Laguiole, France, has appeared as a three-star eatery in the Guide Michelin France since 1999, has asked to be removed from future editions of the influential guide, The Guardian reports.

A Michelin star—or three, the guide's highest designation—can create a lot of anxiety for a restaurant. That increase in business isn’t always a good thing. In February 2017, a tiny, casual French restaurant that employed only four waiters was listed in the Guide Michelin France by mistake (another restaurant with the same name should have been included). It was unprepared for the sudden influx of customers who showed up expecting an award-winning meal.

In a Facebook video, Bras announced his decision to ask for his restaurant to be removed from the guide. He said that while the award had given him great satisfaction over the years, it also created a huge amount of pressure, since the restaurant could be inspected at any time without warning. Bras plans to continue cooking, just without the prestigious designation.

However, a representative from Michelin told AFP that the removal process isn’t automatic, and the decision would have to be considered by the executive committee that awards the stars.

He’s not the only one who has chafed at the honor of a Michelin star. In 2014, a Spanish chef returned the star awarded to his family restaurant outside of Valencia, saying being in a Michelin guide gave patrons specific expectations of what his food would be like, stifling his creativity. Other chefs have also chafed at the expectations a Michelin star creates around their food, including the owner of a French restaurant that wanted to transform into a more casual eatery and a Belgian chef who said that after his restaurant appeared in the restaurant guide, customers were no longer interested in the simple food he wanted to serve.

[h/t The Guardian]

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