The visitor Laurent Chevalier d'Arvieux (1635-1702), a traveller, linguist, and diplomat. He said:
“Their pudding was detestable. It is a compound of scraped biscuit, as flour, suet, currants, salt, and pepper, which are made into a paste, wrapped in a cloth, and boiled in a pot of broth; it is then taken out of the cloth, and put in a plate, and some old cheese is grated over it, which gives it an unbearable smell. Leaving out the cheese, the thing is not too bad.”
Not having heard of cheese on hot Christmas pudding before, I did wonder if it was some sort of hard sauce made with less than fresh butter that graced the top of his serving, and he mistakenly took it for cheese. I wonder when hard sauce was developed?
His countryman Francois Maximilien Misson visited
in 1698, and felt completely differently about English puddings, and although he seemed to be referring to puddings in general, surely he did not exclude the Christmas version when he said: England
“They bake them in the oven, they boil them with meat, they make them fifty different ways. Blessed be he that invented the pudding - to come in pudding time is to come to the most lucky moment in the world.”
M. Misson also clearly enjoyed the Christmas pie of Olde
, a genuine mincemeat pie, before the meat was lost to us. England
“Every family against Christmas makes a famous Pye, which they call Christmas Pye. It is a great Nostrum the Composition of this Pasty. It is a most learned Mixture of Neats-tongues, Chicken, Eggs, Sugar, Raisins, Lemon and Orange Peel, various kinds of Spices etc.”
The other sort of Christmas pie popular in the land of pies was the huge pastry coffin filled with a learned mixture of all sorts of titbits of meat, birds, and other goodies, such as the famous Yorkshire Christmas Pie, a recipe for which can be found in the Vintage Christmas Recipes archive.
It is always interesting to see how visitors react to the food in the country they are visiting, and also how one country interprets the cuisine of another. A famous cookbook of the seventeenth century was The Accomplish’t Cook: or the Art and Mystery of Cookery, by Robert May, first published in 1660. This is his take on French pudding.
To make a French Pudding.
Take half a pound of raisins of the sun, a penny white loaf pared and cut into dice-work, half a pound of beef-suet finely minced, three ounces of sugar, eight slic't dates, a grain of musk, twelve or sixteen lumps of marrow, salt, half a pint of cream, three eggs beaten with it, and poured on the pudding, cloves, mace, nutmeg, salt, and a pome-water, or a pippin or two pared, slic't, and put in the bottom of the dish before you bake the pudding.
Quotation for the Day …
He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.
Roy L. Smith