Dissecting Christmas Pudding

Whether perfectly treacly, horrendously inedible, or just plain blah, Christmas pudding is a tradition that’s firmly entrenched and isn’t about to go away anytime soon. Here’s a peek at how it’s made, the superstitions related to it, and its history.

That sticky brown stuff on your plate wasn’t always the alcohol-laced, bittersweet confection we know today. In the Middle Ages, when it was still called “mince pie,” it was packed with partridge, pheasant, or rabbit meat. Another version was “frumenty,” filled with beef, mutton, and spice. When it morphed into “plum pudding,” breadcrumbs, eggs, and fruit were added. These days, it is made with fruit which has been soaked in your spirit of choice.

Christmas pudding became all the rage in the UK when Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, took a fancy to it. Another custom dating back to the 19th century believes that pudding brings good luck. It is cooked for eight hours and left to age for about a month.

You may find the oddest things tucked into the pudding. Coins, for example, are supposed to bring wealth to those who find them in their slice. Worried about impending spinsterhood or bachelorhood? Just arrange to have the piece with a gold ring in it. Christmas pudding is usually topped with a sprig of holly, commemorating Christ’s crown of thorns. And as we are all aware, the proof’s in the pudding!

Now bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer!

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