Christmas Isn't Christmas Without... Christmas Pudding
You've all sung that line from the Christmas song, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas:" "Come bring us some figgy pudding." If you grew up in a commonwealth nation, odds are you know what you're asking for and so maybe you hum those words. The rest of you may have no idea what figgy pudding is.
It's Christmas Pudding.
A miraculous, cake-like fruit and spiced dessert. Every family, I'm assuming, has their own secret recipe, just like Granny made or something. For the Grabowska's, my sister assumed the mantle of Christmas Pud Provider. She uses Nigella Lawson's recipe. I tried looking it up online, but the one Google came up with doesn't include any Kahlua, and I know for a fact it's in there.
This all started, if I'm recalling correctly, the first year we stayed home in New York for Christmas. Kirsty flew from Vancouver with the pudding steamed in its tin, swaddled in bands of plastic bags to protect her clothes, in her suitcase.
I say it's miraculous, but I don't necessarily mean it's "miraculously delicious." I'm talking more a of a fishes and loaves kind of miracle. At first glance, it's a little dark, rich beautiful mound, drenched in brandy and glowing blue, having been lit afire. It's moist, and warm (because, you know, it was on fire 30 seconds ago). There's the heady combination of the brandy and all the spices filling your mouth and your nasal cavity. Mum insists on making hard sauce for it, which is butter, brown sugar, and rum (or brandy), and it melts deliciously on the pudding. It's astonishing that there are enough servings for everyone, and you look forward to another slice with tea tomorrow, as a little afternoon pick me up.
What you don't know is that Christmas pudding could feed all of the Venezuala. It breeds in the cupboard; it replenishes itself after midnight. Unless you're crafty, you will be enjoying Christmas pudding until Easter. And of course, since your Scottish mother won't let any food go to waste, you have to be very crafty.
This is a culinary commitment. It needs at least 4 weeks to "age" and then another 40 years to steam, not to mention special equipment and super-hero origami abilities. Make sure you also add a coin (please wrap it in wax paper) to tuck into the pud. Whoever discovers it, and loses their teeth, will be "king" or queen of the Christmas festivities.
Does it sound like I am not a fan? Hmmm, how did that happen?
Truly, I love Christmas Pudding, and I'm a little sad as I realize that for the past three years there has been no blue-flame-ball to wrap up Christmas dinner.
Check out the NPR link for a cheater's version of Christmas Pudding