|Go ahead, end the holiday meal with a flaming pudding.|
I missed out on one my of favorite local shopping events this month: the annual British Faire hosted by one of the local chapters of the Daughter of the British Empire (the ladies serve a very excellent afternoon tea); it was held last weekend.
Ah, but there's a second chance to load up on all things English this coming weekend.
Brits, the cozy little shop at 929 Massachussetts in Lawrence, sells a wide array of English imported goods -- from teas to DVDs -- hosts its own holiday open house this Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the store's business hours. Owner Sally Helm and her staff will offer samples of selected British treats and have drawings for prizes.
I stopped in yesterday to see what Helm was offering on her holiday display. There were two shelves stacked with those sticky steamed fruit puddings, a British culinary tradition during the winter holidays and one that never really caught on here in the colonies. Helms offers Walker's Rich Fruit Pudding, Edna May's Christmas Pudding, Wilkin & Son's Pudding (in assorted sizes) and the Goblin brand canned pudding.
Although a flaming pudding -- often the finale to stage productions of A Christmas Carol -- is visually sensational, the plummy Christmas pudding is an acquired taste (I've never developed a fondness for it) with a long history, reportedly dating back to the Roman occupation, when meat was preserved in a pottage, slow-cooked in a cauldron with dried fruit, sugar and spices. Later this concoction was encased in pastry crusts, the forerunner of the mincemeat pie.
Apropos of this, there are plenty of miniature mince pies too on the shelves at Brits, including the Glenfiddich "luxury" version. There are also three kinds of iced fruit cakes. In the freezer case: Cameron's meat pies, pork bangers, steak-and-kidney pies, chicken-and-curry pasties and bags of Aunt Betty's honey-glazed roasted parsnips.
To end a proper British feast, there's tea, of course -- dozens of possibilities -- and for the family members lingering at the table? A new board game, Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice: The Game.