Food Fables and Pudding Tales

There is so much to be written about food in the UK. Most foods are yummy and frequently calorie rich.  Others, in my opinion, defy the Edible Laws 1 and should not appear on any menu except those dedicated to showcasing historical culinary quirks. Some food items may be confusing to the uninitiated American and downright humorous to those of us who are hanging around indefinitely.

Today, is for the yummy and definitely calorie rich.  Pudding! Well, pudding can be yummy.  It can definitely fail the yuck test.  It most certainly hides a secret minefield for the unknowing American.

Americans beware! If it says pudding do NOT think  Jello brand chocolate, vanilla,  or butterscotch nor mom’s banana pudding, or even bread pudding. It, in fact, can be part of breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

If it is breakfast and pudding is on the menu it is black. Black in color.  What I have seen is a sliced disc of blood sausage that is fried, grilled, baked or boiled. I confess; I do not, have not, and will not eat black pudding.

In a pub if asked, “What do you want for pudding?”  The inquiry is in fact this, “What do you want for dessert after your meal?”  You will frequently encounter these choices

  • Eton mess (definitely YUM) – my personal favorite.  Typically crumbled meringues mixed with berries and unsweetened whipped cream.
  • fruit crumble – essentially what Americans think of as a crisp or even a crumble with fruit topped with a crumbly mixture and baked.
  • trifle – sponge cake probably soaked in spirits and fruit covered with layers of custard, jelly 2, and whipped cream.
  • sticky toffee – moist sponge cake, made with finely chopped dates, covered in a toffee sauce often with vanilla custard 3 or vanilla ice cream.
  • bread and butter pudding – well take your favorite version of bread pudding and that will be close but the British butter the bread slices and layer those with the raisins which they tend to call sultanas.

There are many more favorites that may show up for after the meal including spotted dick, Banoffee pie, jam roly poly, summer pudding, chocolate sponge, and custard tart.  I will let the reader check those out. Just do that google thing. I cannot do all the work for you.

Finally, the pudding that Americans have just so many romantic notions about courtesy of Masterpiece Theater and Mr. Dickens, Christmas Pudding.  We are nostalgic about it because we read about the making of it along 4 with stirring and finding the little treasures on the big reveal.  I personally have not had that particular experience yet, but perhaps some day Mary Berry will come to my house for Christmas Dinner and show me how it is done.  No sarcasm meant here.  Mary is my favorite British cookery guru. I have one of her books.  Sadly, I purchased my pudding at the local grocer and served it up according to directions and we ate it wearing our paper hats while wishing it were Eton mess.

So, that is the lowdown on pudding but there is much more to tell about sweets in UK.  I love the sweets here except for a shameful lack of cinnamon candies.  Another sweet story to come.

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