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Fruitcake & other curious foods - origins & trivia


According to "The Joy of Cooking," by Irma Rombauer and Marion Becker, "Many people feel thatfruitcake these cakes improve greatly with age. When they are well saturated with alcoholic liquors, which raise the spirits and keep down mold, and are buried in powdered sugar in tightly closed tins, they have been enjoyed as long as 25 years after baking."

TURKEY

Meat has always featured at the centre of traditional Christmas feasts, although it is has not always been in the form of turkey. The act of serving a large roasted joint of meat at Christmas is believed to originate from ancient sacrificial rites to appease the gods and hopefully ensure a sufficient harvest in the following year. Popular meats used for early celebratory purposes were beef, mutton, pork, peacocks and swans. King James I can be thanked for the emergence of turkey as he introduced it during the seventeenth century for the important reason that it was far kinder to his delicate digestive system! Of course not everyone could afford it, and the poor had to make do with goose.

MINCE PIES
Mince pies, or Christmas pies as they were often known, have existed for centuries, although their shape and content have changed dramatically through the ages. In their original form mince pies were much larger, crib-shaped to represent the manger and packed full of meat, spices and fruit. Unfortunately, the mince pie tradition hasn't always been upheld as during his time in the mid-seventeenth century Cromwell decided they were far too indulgent and banned them. Eventually mince pies came back into existence after the Restoration. The sweet, rich and fruity pies that we are now accustomed to developed early in the twentieth century when the meat content was removed for good.

CHRISTMAS PUDDING
Christmas pudding, or plum/figgy pudding, is believed to originate from the medieval period when
christmas foods plum pottage was served during festivities. Plum pottage was a meat broth that had breadcrumbs and dried fruit added for thickening purposes, and was seasoned with wine and spices. This form of broth developed into a thicker pudding during the seventeenth century when pudding cloths were invented; the meat content was later removed and it became more as we know it today. The pudding became specifically associated with Christmas, rather than merely any festive occasions, when it was introduced to the Royal Christmas dinner table by Prince Albert.

CHRISTMAS CAKE
Christmas cake as we know it now - a rich fruit cake with marzipan and icing - was introduced as a custom by the Victorians. Prior to that period, cake was eaten during Christmas, but without the toppings. The idea of using marzipan is thought to be linked to the Tudor Marchpane an iced and decorated cake of marzipan that acted as the table centrepiece during banquets and festive occasions
credit - Rachel Newcomb

Eggnog
According to reports by Captain John Smith, the first eggnog made in the United States was consumed in his 1607 Jamestown settlement. Nog comes from the word grog, which refers to any drink made with rum.

 

 
 

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