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Giving a Fig about Pudding

Optimize Blog - December 21, 2010 - 0 comments

As the festive season’s ultimate celebration looms large in the form of the mighty Christmas dinner we would like to provide a few paragraphs in honour of the Christmas Pudding or ‘Plum Pudding’ as it was traditionally known.
In reality, the thought of the pudding and the tradition surrounding it far outweighs the pleasure of the actual eating… especially after we’ve worked our way through the oversized (and usually overcooked) turkey, various forms of potatoes, endless vegetables and a belt-busting array of trimmings. Nevertheless we religiously buy the pudding every year, while at the same time promising ourselves that we’ll put slightly less on the main course plates this time…
On the basis that the average North American and European consumes in excess of 7,000 calories on Christmas Day, should we be surprised that the sticky, sweet pudding has managed to stick around, for so long? Well, maybe…the pudding actually has an interesting history alongside the traditional Christmas dinner.
In 1644 the British Parliament, in a demonstration of austerity far more severe than anything suggested by the current batch of economists, decreed that Christmas should be a fast-day instead of a feast day. Many sources referring to the history of the Christmas pudding advise that Oliver Cromwell personally intended to banish the Christmas Pudding. Not a great festive dinner party guest then.
However, Cromwell was rather preoccupied with the not-so-small inconvenience of a Civil War at the time and so played no part in this legislation. That said, in 1656, some even more fanatical Puritans sought to make celebrating Christmas itself illegal – but, thankfully, this bill got no further than its first reading and was subsequently dropped with the feast/fast law lapsing during the Restoration. Nonetheless, religious zealots continued their attempts to oppose the pudding and the Quakers, in 1714, declared that the dish was “the invention of the scarlet whore of Babylon“! Surely a claim even richer than the clogged-artery inducing pudding itself.
We are, of course, thankful for Eliza Acton who finally published the first recipe for Christmas pudding in Britain in 1830. The dish has been served more or less in accordance to this recipe ever since. Although many families pass down their own closely guarded recipe through the generations.
As 2010 draws to a close and we look to spend time sharing with family and friends around the Christmas meal table, we would like to thank our readers for their support during the year and we very much look forward to sharing our musings with you in 2011. In the meantime, we wish all our readers a Happy Christmas and a Healthy and Prosperous 2011.

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