There are a lot of traditional Christmas foods out there. Now if you have heard the song We Wish You A Merry Christmas! you have heard the words figgy pudding. The song demands it be brought out to them. So what is figgy pudding and why would you gather outside someone’s door to demand it? Well there is some interesting history to that and Max Miller not only recreates the dish but also explains its history.
And then there is Wassail that was popular in Tudor England. People sing they are going wassailing but why would they? Well history once again reveals what this dish was and was it really worth making?
And then there is eggnog. Many love or despise it. Like so many things, it has become throughly commercialized and removed from what was once made in the home. The thick custardy eggnog you often get in the store is nothing compared to the smooth tasting variety you can make at home. In much older times though, significant amounts of alcohol were added making it really a boozy drink. People had a high tolerance for alcohol (you drank light beers or fermented apple cider since water was usually not trusted) but even this traditional egg nog in this recipe will send make you quite happy after a few shots.
Chestnuts? They were a popular treat once but you rarely see them anymore. My local store does have Italian chestnuts for sale (so there must be some that still use them) but you rarely hear of them much except in song or when reading old stories. At one time though having roasted chestnuts was common it seems. Many knew how to prep, roast and eat them and were part of feasts. Here is a recreation of how it was done in the 17th century.
Plum pudding (Christmas pudding) was and still is quite popular. There are no plums in it as plum was a common term for raisin. Making it though took effort and lots of time to steam. Today you can buy premade ones and steam for an hour and enjoy. In different times though, it meant waiting quite a while for the delicious pudding to be done and served. Townsends shows how it was made back in the 17th century.
As you can see, many of our Christmas favorites have a history that go back quite a while. Learning how it came about helps us to enjoy them even more today.