It’s December 23. The holiday season is in full swing. I’ve been hearing Christmas carols in the stores since Labor Day and I have finally reached the breaking point. I must know and I must know it right now:
Just what the heck is figgy pudding? And what gives those carolers the right to demand I bring it right now?
A search of my local library’s online databases and my Google ninja skills didn’t result in a very satisfactory result (and I even tried Google UK!), but if this Wikipedia entry is to be believed, it stemmed from an old English tradition of the wealthy giving treats to the less fortunate if they came around caroling. I guess it was the sixteenth-century equivalent of the Occupy movement, but with simpler demands and more joyful noises.*
So, let’s move on to what figgy pudding is, shall we? For the most part, we Americans think of pudding as a tasty treat that comes in one of three states:
Image credit: Old school pudding box by T.Young, on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.
Image credit: An Afternoon Snack by jeff_golden, on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.
Image credit: Marketing Vs Reality by Chris Larkee, on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.
Across the pond, the term means something else entirely. Essentially, dessert puddings are generally some combination of wet bread or other cakey additives, fruit and spices. Figgy pudding includes the addition of dried figs (duh), other dried fruits, spices and brandy (for flavor and to light the whole mess on fire when you bring it to the table).
I contemplated making a batch and reporting the results to you here, fair reader. After skimming several different recipes, the idea of making a dessert from wet breadcrumbs grossed me out. The ick factor increased when I started looking for pictures of the dish. I will spare your eyes the horrors I witnessed. (If you decide to google pictures of it, don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
I don’t think I’m alone in my aversion to this dish; I couldn’t find any evidence that figgy pudding is a dish people actually eat with enthusiasm during the holiday season. My hunch is that figgy pudding may be the British equivalent of the fruitcake.
Have you made or eaten figgy pudding? What are your thoughts? Should I give it a go?
*This statement is, of course, hyperbole. The disparity in society between the very rich and, well, everyone else is worthy of discussion; but that’s best left to another blog post or, better yet, a more erudite blogger.