Some people don’t like Christmas Pudding and the chances are that they don’t like Mince Pies or Christmas Cake either. The fruity, spicy, sweet taste is not for everyone and so the disaffected may go for the alternatives of the Trifle and the Chocolate Yule log.
For others, Christmas Pudding is an essential part of Christmas lunch, following whatever main course is decided upon. Unless suet is included, it is a course that vegetarians can enjoy unreservedly, having sat through the carving of a turkey, goose or the original traditional British roast beef.
In the fourteenth century, the pudding started out as nothing more than a porridge, made with hulled wheat and boiled in milk, spiced with cinnamon and coloured with saffron. However, beef, mutton, and raisons could also be added. This brings to mind the picture of Joey eating Rachel’s trifle in “Friends”, which also contained mince, commenting “What’s not to like?”
Thankfully at some point, the animal ingredients were dropped, and the dish in the seventeenth century, contained breadcrumbs, eggs and dried fruit. The Hanoverians and the Victorians were looking for a really tasty pudding, and produced the pudding that we would recognise today.
I’m sure Mrs Beaton’s recipe would have included all thirteen of the ingredients, meant to represent Jesus and the twelve disciples. Brandy was poured over the pudding, to represent the passion of Christ. During its preparation the pudding was stirred from east to west, representing the journey of the wise men. Trinkets and money were included to add to the festive fun.
The ingredients of the Christmas Pudding are nutritious, providing valuable antioxidants in the dried fruit ingredients , at the end of the meal. Prunes, nuts and carrots can also be included.
Primarily a British dish, the pudding has also found its way to South Africa and Australia.
As with most Christmas food there is always the question of what to do with the left overs?
Eating Christmas pudding mixed with ice cream, might even convince a Christmas Pudding sceptic!