‘Hey waiter! Waiter? I’d like a bunch of wet raisins surrounded by sticky mush please. And set it on fire will you? Otherwise it’ll just be weird.’
Christmas traditions are a great way to unite families and warm the soul. Presents under the tree, the smell of dinner in the air and a wobbly lump of burning sugar in the middle of the table.
This time of year means heralds in the annual war on panettone, but while that rages on there’s another dessert that is essentially its polar opposite that needs to be exposed too. But before we cut too deep into the traditional dessert, allow me to defend one of its most important merits.
Unlike public enemy number one, pudding isn’t mass-produced and handed out willy-nilly as a gift. It’s made with love, and that’s appreciated greatly.
But if we put that love and passion into all the other dessert options, the dinner table would be a happier place.
What your dinner table could look like
The nature of traditions means they’re hard to break, primarily because we fear losing out on a cultural pillar by rejecting a thing we’re told we have to like; it’s why people lose their mind when you tell them it’s OK to hate panettone. What’s baffling about the fact that Christmas pudding is still a staple at the dinner table is that unlike most other traditions, many people are vocal about hating it.
Your uncle hates it because he hates candied fruit. Your cousin hates the taste. Your niece once choked on the coin they baked inside so she’s terrified of the whole thing. So many people public reject the Christmas pudding, but it’s never enough.
Like the creepy sponge in that one Goosebumps episode that won’t go away no matter how many times you bury it in the garden, Chritmas pudding just keeps coming back. No number of impassioned protests can stop it. It’s essentially the Donald Trump of desserts – and not just in texture.
If you were on a date with someone who kept pulling out magic tricks every time you asked them a question about their personal life, you’d get suspicious. Now imagine something so odd, it needed to be set on fire and drowned in a spectacle to avoid people looking too closely. Is that something you should enjoy eating?
Pyrotechnics aside, the pudding is also a dessert with too many excuses made on its behalf. “Oh, but if you sprinkle it with cinnamon and cover it in custard it tastes lovely.”
Sure, it might end up tasing incredible – but the same can be said for a plain piece of bread. This doesn’t lend much merit to the strength of the pudding as a stand-alone treat.
Why you do your pudding dirty like this?
When you’re not giving it the Myrtle-from-American-Horror-Story treatment or burying it in custard, most people love Christmas pudding because it reminds them of their favourite season of the year. But so do wreathes and Christmas trees, and we’re not expected to eat those.
Since a traditional pudding has to be slow-cooked for over five hours, why don’t we devote our (and the power station’s) energy to making better sweets and tastier treats?
You can even keep the fun tradition of making a mound of mush, burying coins deep inside it and ask everyone to dig through the pudding with a spoon in a frenzied rush and find the lucky coin. Just don’t push the lump of burnt sugar wobble off as food.
Merry Christmas all – may your lives be as fruitful as a Christmas cake and your humour stay as dry as the panettone you’ll be forced too smile about.