Friday, December 19, 2008

Two Words with Different Meanings and a Quest for Holiday Pastries...aka...Spirit

Why oh why can't the British think of a different name for their favorite holiday treat: the Mince Pie. I know what many of you are thinking. Mince pies? Beef pies? As a holiday...treat? But no. In this case, "mince" does not refer to ground meat. It refers to this really sweet cinnamon-y, nutmeg-y concoction that goes inside little pie pastries so everyone gets their own personal mince pie. The traditional recipe also calls for "suet" which is animal fat...which is, for all intents and purposes: Crisco. If there's one thing the British totally have a knack for, it's calling food items by horribly unappetizing names.

For example:
Bubble and Squeak: mashed potatoes and cabbage
Beans on Toast: beans on toast...but actually kind of good
Black Pudding: blood...basically
Spotted Dick: this one's a dessert
Clotted Cream
And, possibly the most well thought out name, almost as well thought out as naming your pet goldfish "vagina": The Faggot

Just to name a few.

So. I keep typing "mince pies" into my google recipe search, and I keep getting recipes for beef, lamb, and chicken pies. Sometimes I get a recipe for what I'm looking for, but I can never get a recipe for the actual mince. I'm hoping that Kroger or Schnucks will just happen to have it. I'd kind of like some mince pies...despite the name and the listed ingredient: suet. It honestly sounds like something you might feed a pig.

You know what there is much less of this year as well? Cookies. NO ONE has offered me a free Christmas cookie. I think other people have had them, or been offered them, but it has always been well out of my eye and ear-shot. Do they exist? Where did they go? Am I going to have to make ALL of my own Christmas goodies? (I do believe that my neighbors Amy and Jennifer are preparing cookies for my room mate and me, but I have nothing to tide me over until then).

I cleaned the kitchen yesterday. That's one goal accomplished.

Where are you Christmas? And by that I mean: where is the chocolate and where are the cookies?


chrishaley said...

Peggy has made enough Christmas cookies for 3 Christmases so far.

Vanessa said...

Congealed blood? Crisco pudding? Man, if there is one thing the British don't have knack for, it's MAKING an appetizing dish.

Nancy Caroline said...

The English are pretty darn good at making Curry...oh wait, that's the Indians. yep. English food does not equal appetizing (fyi, if we were in England right now, we would spell it "appetising" and it wouldn't be).

jannaluttrell said...

I think you can get mincemeat at Target. I know I've seen it here somewhere. My mom grew up eating mince pies, so I know it exists. She's from Kentucky though. Maybe you should drive to Kentucky and then you might find some (if you haven't already). Maybe they'll put some bourbon in it for you.

Nancy Caroline said...

Luckily, I found it at Kroger. My mom grew up eating Mince pies too. I wonder why we stopped...Maybe some kid in the 80s was reading the list of ingredients and was all, "raisins, apples, nutmeg, brown sugar, beef...beef?!"
The mincemeat I found does not have bourbon in it. Boooo.

Ginger said...

"Man, if there is one thing the British don't have knack for, it's MAKING an appetizing dish."
You've clearly never *tasted* British puddings (desserts) then.

Re: mincemeat - the suet is only a minor part, and you can get vegetarian suet anyway. The main point is the dried fruit. And spices. And alcohol. Here's a recipe if you fancy trying to make some,1235,RC.html

Anyway, you're speaking from the country that calls a particular piece of luggage a fanny pack. The UK is also laughing over the fact that the White House allegedly has a member of staff called Randy Bumgardner. So we're just as bad as each other ;-)

Ginger said...

ps. If you want to circumvent your searching problem, just use and search for mincemeat or mince pie.

Nancy Caroline said...

I have tried banoffee (?) pie, and LOVED it, but I was a bit disappointed in the sticky toffee pudding. Maybe I just got a bad one.
I am also partial to a good serving of sausages and mashed potatoes with onion give the English SOME credit. Also...thanks for the language. ;)

Ginger said...

Actually the more I think about it, the more I concede that you're right about us Brits mis-selling foodstuffs.

I mean, two of the sweet delights of autumn/winter are 'steamed pudding' and 'crumble'. One sounds like a kind of disappointing diet concoction, and the other like a decaying dessert. The reality is pleasantly different - steamed puddings are sponges dripping with jam (jelly), syrup or chocolate (,1497,RS.html) and crumbles are a great way of serving autumn fruits.

But here we go again with the dodgy names: Sussex Pond Pudding is yummy but the name sounds swampy and it also has the dubious feature of...containing suet. But the reality is something wonderful, especially when you cut into it and the whole lemon in the centre bursts and releases its juices through the pudding.

Sorry for this random spot of trans-Atlantic dessert-based enthusiasm but I feel the need to defend the content of our puddings despite their dodgy names. I guess the fact that some of them date back decades or centuries before marketing execs might not have helped their case!

Happy eating :-)

PS. Never ask for Yorkshire pudding as dessert...