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A recipe for Christmas pudding with a side of food history

The Christmas pudding has an interesting colonial history with ingredients like spices sourced from India, rum from Jamaica and raisins from the Mediterranean

A classic Christmas pudding is a composite of influences.
A classic Christmas pudding is a composite of influences. (Freepik)

With Christmas around the corner, it’s time to fill your kitchen cabinets with baking essentials: high quality vanilla, flour, butter as well as brown and white sugar. For that festive feeling, stock up on a variety dry fruits to make cakes and puddings. Finally, get some nice Jamaican rum and brandy for boozy desserts. It’s one of those festivals where alcohol in cakes and puddings are a must to soak the dried fruits. Traditionally, this step was required to preserve dried raisins and berries to make them last longer.

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A story, published on Sunday, highlighted the history of this classic pudding. The Press Trust of India story titled, How the Christmas pudding, with ingredients taken from the colonies, became an iconic British food, traces its composite origins with ingredients sourced from British colonies. The recipe has an array of spices from colonies like India and Sri Lanka. They got citrus from the Caribbean and raisins from the Mediterranean region. Apart from these key taste enhancers, they introduced French brandy and Jamaican rum. The story notes, “The high alcohol content gave the puddings a shelf life of a year or more, allowing them to be sent even to the empire’s frontiers during Victoria’s reign, including to British soldiers serving in Afghanistan.” Recipes evolve, and in the nineteenth century Queen Victoria introduced a royal pudding in the shape of a Christmas tree which had high aspirational value. The story reports that the British Women’s Patriotic League branded it as Empire Pudding in the 1920s.

From high royal value to a political statement, the Christmas pudding has had an interesting journey. It is guaranteed to be fodder for an interesting conversation for your next Christmas party. For those tempted to make Christmas pudding—topped with the theatrics of flambéing it with alcohol—look no further than this recipe by Jamie Oliver.

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