12 Foods of Christmas Revisited

Smy Goodness Mincemeat

Smy Goodness Mincemeat

17th c. Dutch still life, artist unkown (photo credit from:  Hackney Citizen )

17th c. Dutch still life, artist unkown (photo credit from: Hackney Citizen)

Mincemeat and mince pies are markers of Christmas. Mincemeat is the filling baked inside pies and they originally contained dried fruit, spices, vinegar and meat when they first appeared in the 15th century. There’s the old wives' tale that you should eat a mince pie on each of the 12 days of Christmas for good luck in the upcoming year. Listen above for a brief look at mincemeat or go to the full page to listen AND for even more more information, tips and recipes.


 

Amadee Varin 1861 Il Cavolo de Bruxelles from Droleries Vegétalés

Amadee Varin 1861 Il Cavolo de Bruxelles from Droleries Vegétalés

Sprouts

Sprouts

When I was little I was sure that someone with magical powers had shrunk cabbages into bite size portions. If you don’t think they taste delicious, you’re probably cooking them wrong! And if you’re just eating them at Christmas…well lots of people do but they deserve a place at the table beyond the Christmas holidays and sprouts are a £650,000,000 business with loads of varieties to try and inventive pairings and ways to prepare them. Artwork from Amedee Varin. Listen above for a brief look at sprouts or go to the full page to listen AND for even more more information, tips and recipes.


 

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Cranberry Chutney#cranberry #chutney #christmas #christmasfood #preserves #smygoodness #red #wine #port #boozy #eatme.jpg

These small, round, bright-red berries are more tart than sweet which makes them a perfect accompaniment to roast meat and dinners bringing a nice bright dash of Christmas red to ones plate. This week we look at how these North American fruits have become part of Christmas, gained status as a superfood and the many ways they can be enjoyed throughout the holidays and year-round. Listen above for a brief look at cranberry sauce or go to the full page to listen AND for even more more information, tips and recipes.


 

Cinnamon Merchant, from 'Tractatus de Herbis' by Dioscorides (vellum), Italian School, (15th century) / Biblioteca Estense, Modena

Cinnamon Merchant, from 'Tractatus de Herbis' by Dioscorides (vellum), Italian School, (15th century) / Biblioteca Estense, Modena

Man’s belt made from cinnamon bark belt. Worn only by the males of the Onge Group of tribes. As found with the Rutland Island tribe of Jarawas in the Andaman Islands of India. Aquisition date, 1895 ( via British Museum )

Man’s belt made from cinnamon bark belt. Worn only by the males of the Onge Group of tribes. As found with the Rutland Island tribe of Jarawas in the Andaman Islands of India. Aquisition date, 1895 (via British Museum)

It works sweet or savoury and can be oh-so overpowering if you let it. I have to say, it’s not my favourite spice and is one that I use sparingly so that it doesn’t dominate a dish, but properly balanced, cinnamon brings warmth and depth of flavour to dishes all year round but particularly at Christmas. Listen above for a brief look at cannamon or go to the full page to listen AND for even more more information, tips and recipes.


 

A Christmas Carol/Scrooge (1951)

A Christmas Carol/Scrooge (1951)

Egyptian hieroglyphics depicting preparation of geese

Egyptian hieroglyphics depicting preparation of geese

Goose - the squatted, more flavourful, dark meat alternative to their dry, white-melted fowl cousin the turkey. The custom and popularity of eating a goose during autumnal and winter harvest and holidays stretches from when they were domesticated by the Egyptians over 4000 years ago. This episode looks at traditions throughout the ages including the long-running Tavistock Goosey Fair, Michaelmas, the Smithfield's Market Christmas Eve Sale and the goose/turkey dynamic of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Listen above for a brief look at goose or go to the full page to listen AND for even more more information, tips and recipes.


 

Circe with Mulled wine by Gioacchino Assereto, Italian Baroque painter, c 1630.

Circe with Mulled wine by Gioacchino Assereto, Italian Baroque painter, c 1630.

Scrooge and Bob Crachit illustration (source:  Tori Avey )

Scrooge and Bob Crachit illustration (source: Tori Avey)

It has lots of the familiar spices we associate with Christmas infused together in warmed wine, spirits, fruit and sugar. Walk in to a party from the cold and serving mulled wine and you’ll know instantly as it saturates your sense of smell and warms you up as it fills your belly. Since pre-history we have found ways to drink fermented beverages and we owe thanks to the Greeks and the Romans for specifically bringing mulled wine to Northern Europe and throughout the world. We'll discuss Circe, her role in the Odyssey and with Odysseus will be discussed as well as her appearance in Gioacchino Assereto's painting Circe Mulling Wine. I share my own tips and recipe for mulled wine and more. Listen above for a brief look at mulled wine or go to the full page to listen AND for even more more information, tips and recipes.


 

Still Life with Oranges and Goblet of Wine (c. 1880-1890s, John Frederick Peto (1854 - 1907)

Still Life with Oranges and Goblet of Wine (c. 1880-1890s, John Frederick Peto (1854 - 1907)

Three Gold Balls, Gentile da Fabriano’s ,1425. San Niccolo, Florence From the predella of the Quaratesi triptych

Three Gold Balls, Gentile da Fabriano’s ,1425. San Niccolo, Florence
From the predella of the Quaratesi triptych

In the 5 or 6 weeks prior to Christmas is when clementines, satsumas, manderins and tangerines come into season and join forces to dominate the fruit bowl. Their flavours and essences appear throughout our food, drink and traditions throughout Christmas. Find out about the roots and origins of oranges and the differences between the easy-peelers. We'll learn about St. Nicholas and why we put oranges in stockings with help of Gentile da Fabriano and his painting, Three Gold Balls. Listen above for a brief look at oranges or go to the full page to listen AND for even more more information, tips and recipes.


 

Floris van Dyck (c. 1575–1651) Still Life with Cheeses, c. 1615

Floris van Dyck (c. 1575–1651) Still Life with Cheeses, c. 1615

Medieval cheese makers

Medieval cheese makers

It’s a perfect symphony of seasonality. Many cheeses  we enjoy at Christmas are coming into peak maturity around the holidays. What’s your cheese? British classics or continental cheeses? Do you go for the cheese board rather than pudding? At Christmas you can sample ALL the cheeses and ALL the puddings! It's a perfectly delicious puzzle when choosing ones plate of cheeses and pairing them w/chutneys, crackers, wines and ports. How cheese is good for us, more Ebenezer Scrooge and artwork by Floris van Dyck. Listen above for a brief look at Christmas and cheese or go to the full page to listen AND for even more more information, tips and recipes.


 

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Capturing magic in a jar, sharing that with family and friends, creating new culinary moments and memories with family and friends and repeat.Today’s Christmas food is chutney. Since the last 12 Foods of Christmas episode featured cheese, it would seem only fitting that we follow that up with chutney. So there we have it, will you be enjoying chutney this Christmas? What are your favourite flavours? Listen above for a brief look at Christmas and chutney or go to the full page to listen AND for even more more information, tips and recipes.


 

William Hogarth's Gin Lane, 1751 engraving

William Hogarth's Gin Lane, 1751 engraving

Cicely Mary Barker, The Sloe Fairy, Flower Fairy series c. 1927

Cicely Mary Barker, The Sloe Fairy, Flower Fairy series c. 1927

It's the mid point between Christmas and New Year…we might benefit from a break from the excesses that have been and may be yet to come. We also can't go cold-turkey from the excesses of non-stop food and drink so a gin and tonic or a bit of sloe gin is a welcome comfort. I never manage to get the timing right to pick sloes from the hedgerows where they can be foraged. The Sloe, or wild Plum, is the fruit of the Blackthorn found in the hedgerows. By autumn these small fruits are oval, blue-black and their sourness makes them perfect to cover with sugar and gin which by Christmas will have formed into a perfectly luxurious holiday tipple, sloe gin. Listen above for a brief look at gin and sloe gin or go to the full page to listen AND for even more more information, tips and recipes.


 

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This mini-episode is just a little taster, chocolate will get a FULL ON episode in the future, here we are just focusing on Christmas chocolates such as chocolate coins, chocolate tins and trays. From its roots in South and Central America cacao has created joy and good tidings everywhere it has gone and we love to gift it, share it and eat it at Christmas. Listen above for a brief look at Christmas and chocolates or go to the full page to listen AND for even more more information, tips and recipes.


 

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At Christmas-time and New Year we drink more champagne, proecco and cava than ever and it seems perfectly acceptable to be cracking open bottles of bubbley before noon. Those bubbles can go straight to ones head…and what starts as giddiness…quickly moves into tipsiness…which is sure to end in headache if one too many glasses are enjoyed. We'll look at the roots of bubbly and how it became such a celebratory treat. Listen above for a brief look at all bubbly or go to the full page to listen AND for even more more information, tips and recipes.