If you’ve ever got through the first verse of We Wish You A Merry Christmas, and your enthusiasm is waning a bit, but you’re stood next to one of those Christmas people, you know the type, wears a wacky Christmas jumper, has bauble earrings and is annoyingly excited from December 1st, you’ll get to the line ..’Now bring us some figgy pudding, now bring us some figgy pudding….’. It’s at this point that you may be wondering, ‘God, I hate this song, and I wish she'd shove those baubles where the sun don’t shine (Scotland)’, but you then drift off into ‘what the hell is figgy pudding, and what’s so special about it that under no circumstances whatsoever will she leave until she’s got some’. And she’s adamant about that. Bits of white beard will be sent in the post until figgy pudding is brought to her. Right now!
Well, calm down sister. Let Santa go. Figgy Pudding is available from The Queens Pantry.
Figgy Pudding is more commonly known as Christmas Pudding, or Christmas Pud. In the 14th century cookbook The Forme of Cury, the recipe for fygey pudding was published….
|Take Almaende blanched; grynde hem and drawe hem up
with watr and wyne; quartr figs hole raisons. Cast þerto powdor gingr and
hony clarified; seeþ it wel and salt it, and seve forth
This is how they spoke in medieval England. That's because they had no teeth and were drunk all the time. When sober, it read…..
Take blanched almonds, grind them, mix with water and wine, quartered figs, whole raisins. Add in powdered ginger, clarified honey, boil it well and salt it, and serve
For the next couple of centuries, everyone was either too drunk, or too dead from cholera, to really care about Christmas, or indeed, Christmas pud. Then it made a bit of a comeback. Charles Dickens wrote about it in A Christmas Carol….
In half a minute Mrs Cratchit entered – flushed, but smiling proudly – with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quarter of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top
The fame went to the puds head. Taking on Dickens suggestions, it started dressing up in holly, and soaking itself in any booze it could get it’s dried-fruit hands on, and every time it entered a room, it set itself on fire to the audible gasps of all those present. It turned into a right proper show off. Riches followed, and to make out it was a pud of the people, it started to hide a sixpence or thrupenny bit (about 52 cents in todays money) in the pud, and whoever found it, and hadn’t choked to death on it, was considered lucky. And rich!! It also demanded it be made 4-5 weeks before Christmas, and once it was finished, wrapped in a cloth and finally be well hung. It was very popular with the ladies.
Today, the Christmas pud recipe brings together what traditionally were expensive or luxurious ingredients — notably dried fruit, and the sweet spices that are so important in developing its distinctive rich aroma, and usually made with suet. It is very dark, almost black in appearance due to the dark sugars and black treacle and is traditionally served after Christmas dinner. Health and Safety, and more recently, the cost of voting Conservative, have seen the decline in putting a silver coin in the pud. They now just put more booze in, and serve it with a brandy sauce, so you end up getting very drunk and full of Christmas cheer. Apart from nana, who gets plastered and passes out. She’ll sleep it off.
So bring us some figgy pudding, and if you want to save Christmas, get down to The Queens Pantry and pick up your Christmas pudding now. Otherwise Santa gets it.