Thursday, November 6, 2008
A Treasured Treat
Tonight at Castle in the Air, our very own John McRae will be teaching one of his beloved trompe l'oeil box classes, where paper, glue, and cotton batting transform in students' hands into deliciously deceptive faux food. This time out the result will be a plum pudding box in anticipation of the holiday season.
The plum pudding as we know it today is the ancestor of a tradition dating back to the days of the Roman Empire, when meats and vegetables were preserved with a multitude of exotic spices and a slow cooking process. As the centuries passed, the puddings began to contain more and more sweets, such as nuts and fruits, treacle, even a bit of brandy or beer. In the Renaissance, prunes were such a popular addition to the treat that the plum pudding picked up its modern name. By the 19th century, the pudding had become a staple of the Christmas feast. Its round shape comes from the pudding being boiled and hung inside a cloth, and it is often served topped with custard and a sprig of holly.
It's been tradition to bake a sixpence or other trinket into the plum pudding, and the person who is served the treasured piece gets to keep the token and is often granted good luck for the coming year. Being a box, John's plum pudding serves but one lucky person, but can be filled with much more than a single silver coin!