Did you know… that traditional Christmas nibble we love to have with our tea, coffee, or glass of sherry or two… in other words: mince pies… were originally filled with meat, such as lamb, rather than the dried fruit and spices (and brandy!) mix we’re more familiar with today? They were also first made in an oval shape to represent the manger that Jesus slept in as a baby, with the top representing his swaddling clothes. Sometimes they even had a ‘pastry baby Jesus’ on the top.
During Stuart and Georgian times here in England (that’s around 1600 to the early 1800’s), mince pies were a status symbol at Christmas. Very rich people liked to show off at their Christmas parties by having pies made in different shapes, such as stars or hearts. Having pies like this meant you were rich and could afford to employ the best, and most expensive, pastry cooks. Francis Granville’s cook at Firle Manor, the redoubtable Mrs Farthing, was obviously one of those!
Nowadays, they’re normally made in a round shape and are eaten hot or cold, with either shortcrust or flakey pastry… and having a dollop of thick cream on top is even more indulgent (and fattening!). But hey ho, it’s Christmas, diets are for New Year Resolutions.
Did you also know that a custom from the middle ages says that if you eat a mince pie every day from Christmas to Twelfth Night you will have happiness for the next 12 months? So what are you waiting for? As if you needed an excuse to indulge in these delicious festive treats!
Have a happy Christmas….. keep safe and keeeeep reading.