- With over 20 historic recipes
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Christmas today is a time of feasting, drinking and all round
merrymaking. We serve vast meals that cause our dining tables to groan
with the weight and our families to gasp at the luxury.
But it is
not just a matter of serving huge meals. Christmas - more than any other
time of year - is associated with its own special foods, drinks and
Most Christmas foods are widely recognised. Roast
turkey graces most tables, which also feature sprouts, roast potatoes,
parsnips, bacon rolls, pigs in blankets, cranberry sauce and bread
sauce. All that is in due course cleared away to be replaced by
Christmas pud and mince pies.
Others are very personal. I grew up in
a household where supper on Christmas Eve was always sausages and mash,
and where the adults began Christmas Day by trooping down to the
kitchen for "Grandma's Special Christmas Tea", which was consumed with
much lip smacking and joking. As a tot I found this early morning ritual
a bit odd, but when I grew older I learned that "Grandma's Special
Christmas Tea" involved my grandmother tipping a healthy dose of whisky
into each mug before pouring out the tea.
We take so much of this
for granted as part and parcel of our Christmas traditions that we
indulge ourselves without thinking. And if we do spare a thought we
probably imagine that Christmas has always been like this.
hasn't. Christmases of years gone by were very different. Oh, there has
always been plenty of eating and drinking going on, but what has been
eaten or drunk has varied enormously.
So what did our ancestors eat and drink on the greatest feast of the year?
note that in producing the recipes included in this book I have adapted
original recipes found in books and manuscripts dating back to the
times in question. Earlier recipes often did not include either precise
measurements or detailed instructions, so I have experimented to find
what seems to work best for me. I have generally sought to avoid recipes
using ingredients that might be difficult to find these days or have
suggested easily obtained alternatives when I have - how could I
possibly miss out Mrs Beeton's original Christmas cake of 1861? Enjoy
trying out these recipes and your taste of the past.