The first time I took a bite of a sugar dusted mince pie, in Stratford Upon Avon
(where Shakespeare resided), I looked at Chris and asked: “ What the hell is this?”
I guess it was the word “Mince” that I found a little misleading- but it was free, so I didn’t complain.
Everyone who has been to England around Christmas time or has lived here for some time knows, that the Brits are bloody serious when it comes to their little Christmas delicacy.
But what is?
Where in the world does it come from?
and why for goodness sake is it called Mince pie?
Ready?…Here we go
What are Mince pies?
Essentially they are crumbly pastries , filled with a mixture made from dried fruits (such as currants, raisins, candied mixed peel), sugar, lemon zest, Orange zest, Apples, mixed spices ( cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, gloves, coriander, ginger) and Suet.
Recipes vary of course.
Where do they come from
Many people agree, that the Mince pie can be traced back to medieval England.
( Through the crusades a lot of the delicious spices made their way to Europe )
It was a time when the crust was designed to be thrown away after the filling had been cooked. This method was mainly used for delicate cooking or meat fillings and luckily didn’t catch on. Can you imagine a pie without the crust now? (despicable)
A lot of recipes from medieval times show that the concept of deserts was not as we know it today.
Many dishes were actually a mixture of sweet and savoury flavours.
As spices were very pricey back then ( the more spices the wealthier) they could only be served at special times such as Easter or Christmas.
Why do we call them Mince pies?
They originally had meat in them, such as mutton, beef, pork, game or rabbit.
It is not quite clear to say, when meat was no longer used as an ingredient but probably around the 20th century.
The tradition of Mince pies is still very much alive and today I am having my very first one of the year (by the one and only Abel and Cole co. nom), covered in a sea of brandy cream a nice cuppa tea and a heart-warming Christmas movie.
What mouth-watering delicacy are you enjoying today?
Share but don’t make us jealous please!