Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Propaganda and puddings.

Today, November 22 …

The Australian Woman’s Mirror published a recipe for “Empire Christmas Pudding” on this day in 1927. All of its ingredients, as the name suggests, were sourced from the British Empire.

The Empire movement had started at the turn of the century in Ontario, “to foster Imperial patriotism and loyalty” by reminding British subjects of their allegiance, no matter where they resided in the Pink Bits. Oaths were sworn, an “unnecessary holiday” (to some) was called on May 24th, and those at home and in the colonies were encouraged to buy Empire goods. It made culinary sense as well as economic sense, for:

“We have every clime and every season within our borders, and cold storage has annihilated distance, we may dine as elegantly, as exotically, as we choose. … gigot de pré-salé is only leg of mutton after all.”

To win hearts and minds, the stomach must be won over first, for as Lin Yutang said “what is patriotism but the love of food one ate as a child?” For the Englishman this meant pudding. The Empire Marketing Board developed the recipe, made a 40lb sample (26 hours to cook!), and presented it to the King, who accepted it “in the hope that the public will be encouraged to buy Empire ingredients for their own Christmas pudding”. Royal testimonials never hurt.

There was a shift in emphasis during the war, when rationing meant that puddings could not “aspire to pre-war richness”, and recipes had names that wept propaganda as compensation for the missing ingredients. Wartime official “Peace Christmas Pudding” had carrot and dried egg and “Mincemeat for Patriotic People” was not much better, but by 1927, all seemed well with the world again, Imperial patriotism was back, and a recipe could be a geography lesson.

All-British (Empire) Pudding.

5 lb. currants (Australia)
5 lb. sultanas (Australia)
5 lb. stoned raisins (South Africa)
1 ½ lb. minced apple (Canada)
5 lb. breadcrumbs (United Kingdom)
5 lb. beef suet (New Zealand)
2 lb. cut candied peel (South Africa)
2 ½ lb flour (United Kingdom)
2 ½ lb. Demarara sugar (West Indies)
20 eggs (Irish Free State)
2 oz. ground cinnamon (Ceylon)
1 ½ oz. ground cloves (Zanzibar)
1 ½ oz. ground nutmegs (Straits Settlements)
1 teaspoonful pudding spice (India)
1 gill brandy (Cyprus)
2 gills rum (Jamaica)
2 quarts old beer (England)

This was prepared by “the usual method” of course.

Tomorrow … The Roast Beef of Old England.

No comments: