Festive treats for a festive season

The Taste of a British Christmas

It’s Christmas time in the UK and if you don’t have patience to prepare delicacies yourself, I can tell you where to purchase these munchies on any high street

Dark chocolate with mint leaf
Dark chocolate with mint leaf

Go for the Classic Mint & Chocolate Combo

Marks and Spencer, or Marks and Sparks, as you call it here, is the poshest of all supermarket chains in this country, and it’s certainly worth a visit if you’re looking for high-end edible gifts to bring to a festive dinner. The evergreen of distinct English snacks, although by now season nonspecific, comes in the lovely and refreshing combination of mint and chocolate. For extra taste and aesthetics, I highly advise getting your hands on something beyond your average After Eight-ish mint cream sachet. You’re in M & S after all, the options are endless, enjoy them. Beware: everything is so beautifully wrapped this time of year, with shiny ribbons and designer boxes, you may find it difficult to give up the package…

Christmas pudding
The famous Christmas pudding

A Pudding with History

If minty chocolate isn’t your cup of tea, high-quality nuts and dried fruit could be an interesting way to go. In my last visit to Sainsbury’s I got my hands on this square box which was filled with great (and tasty) history. I’m talking about Christmas pudding, while this sweet delicacy once required work and preparation, today you can simply buy one at the store and it’s just as yummy. Well almost… If you’re wondering what it is, it’s basically a mixture of fruit, nuts, and brandy which is traditionally added gradually as the pudding matures in the pantry and the taste develops. Historically the Christmas Pudding, or plum pudding as it was called in medieval times, is a blend of 13 ingredients, in honour of Jesus and the twelve apostles. The ingredients were sourced from colonies of the British Empire making it a reflection of British power, access, resourcefulness and pride. Nutmeg from the West Indies, Australian currants, South African stoned raisins and Canadian apples were all part of the mix – including suede, rendering the original recipe not suitable for vegetarians! Yes, the original Christmas Pudding was savoury and contained meat but over the years it shifted in a sweeter direction as food preservation developed.
The ready to eat version, however, only needs a little bit of heating up and it will glow and spread its Christmas scent!

Mince Pies
Mince Pies

Meatless Mincemeat

Another distinctive Christmas treat still popular in the UK is Mince Pie, which carries its own share of history. As the name suggests the meat is minced and shredded into the cup sized pastry, originally it was mixed with dried fruit, nuts and spices. But as progress has it, in the same vain as the Christmas Pudding, mincemeat too has lost its savoury touch. Today mincemeat often refers to a mixture of crushed fruit, nuts, distilled spirits and vegetable shortening. With meat or without meat, the popularity of Mince Pie remains unprecedented though. The average working men’s bakery in the UK, called Greggs, reported to have sold 7.5 million Mince Pies in 2011! Fruits feature heavily in the cuisine here at this time of year, try to see if your taste buds allow for a truly English variety.
Merry Christmas (:


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