Wining & Dining
Food & Drink from Popular Christmas Songs
11/30/2018 12:12:44 PM
Food and Drink from Christmas Songs


The holidays are a time for food – we splurge on treats and bring out old family recipes that only see the light of day a few times each year. Our love of good food during the holidays is reflected in several popular carols and songs of the season. Let’s dig in!

We Wish You A Merry Christmas – Figgy Pudding
This well-known carol has the line, "Now bring us some figgy pudding,” a treat that most modern American listeners have never tasted! The song likely dates back to the 19th century, when it was traditional in England for wealthy people in the community to hand out treats to carolers, including "figgy pudding.” Puddings were steamed, cake-like desserts traditionally made with dark sugar, dried fruit like raisins, lots of spices, brandy, and suet.

Here We Come A-Wassailing – Wassail 
The name of this warm, spiced drink comes from a traditional greeting – "Waes hael,” which means "Be well.” Wassailing was the tradition of travelling door-to-door to spread holiday greetings, and receiving a mug of hot wassail from the hosts. Wassail recipes vary, but all contain an alcoholic base like mead or beer, sugar, spices, apples, oranges, and brandy. Some were historically topped with a slice of toast. If you want something similar to this drink, mulled cider might do the trick.  

The Christmas Song – Roasted Chestnuts
For generations, city-dwellers could count on the sight and aroma of street vendors selling roasted chestnuts during the winter. If you’re curious, you can roast your own chestnuts by placing the whole, unshelled nuts in a single layer over a heat source (preferably a fire, but an oven will work, too!) Use a knife to score one end with an X for easy peeling after roasting. Roast for about 25 minutes. The shell will easily peel away and leave you with the mild, slightly-sweet nut.

Over the River and Through the Woods – Pudding
Like "We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” this song isn’t referring to the gelatin-thickened dessert that we tend to think of when we say "pudding.” Instead, it’s talking about a steamed dessert full of spices and dried fruit. Often, people make puddings a few days ahead of time, then reheat before serving. Sometimes they cover the top with a splash of brandy and set it on fire for a marvelous centerpiece to end the meal!

Sleigh Ride – Pumpkin Pie
Whether you enjoy a slice plain or topped with whipped cream, pumpkin pie is a staple of the holiday table. The creamy, spiced filling is an American classic. In fact, a recipe for "Pompkin Pudding” is found in the first American cookbook, which was published in 1796. Though people had been making desserts and food from roasted pumpkins for years prior, this is the first recipe that resembles the classic pie we all know and love.

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy – Sugarplums
We’ve all heard of sugarplums, but it’s likely you don’t know what exactly they are. Contrary to their name, they don’t contain plums. Instead, sugarplums are a type of confit candy. Somewhat like a modern jawbreaker, confit is made by hardening layers of sugar around a central nut. The "plum” part of the name probably comes from the fact that the candy would be about the same size as a plum, with a hard "pit.” 

Whether you try any of these holiday treats or just stick to singing about them, may your Christmas season be full of joy, love, and good food!
Posted by: Keaghan P. Wier | Submit comment | Tell a friend

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