Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Christmas Mince Pie Menace

Well, if this , wasn’t quite so pathetic, it would be hilarious.

For all those of you reading this outside the UK, it most probably is. Before reading this article, the first thing you need to understand is that here in England, we have the mental capabilities of a trained monkey.

Our magnificent Government has to protect us all from killing ourselves on a daily basis. So they are even more vigilant over our Christmas celebrations.

The fact that we are now, suddenly, in severe danger of poisoning ourselves by eating mince pies, brought a wry smile to my lips.

So Council Bosses in the Yorkshire Dales are worried about these pies containing nuts and suet are they ?


Well if they knew just what the original composition of the festive mince pie of Old England used to contain, I am sure they would by now be racing for a change of underwear.

In his excellent book The Complete Book of Curries, Writer Harvey Day dedicated half a page to this subject. I am sure you will find the following enlightening:
‘How a poor woman makes palatable Mince Pyes of stinking Meat.’
…..in the eighteenth century, before the advent of refrigeration, meat often went bad, especially in the homes of the poor who eked out their supplies over weeks; and in his delightful little book, Meet Mr Ellis, Vicars Bell gives extracts, supplemented by comments, of life in Little Gaddesden, Herts, two centuries ago. According to Mr Ellis, a prosperous farmer, ‘This is a poor industrious Woman that rents a little Tenement by me of Twenty Shillings a Year, who for the Sake of her Poverty is Every Week relieved, with many others, by the most noble Lord of Gaddesden Manour; who killing a Bullock almost every week for his large Family, he has the Offald meat dressed, and is so good as to have it given to the poorest People in the Neighbourhood. But as it sometimes happes, through the Negligence of careless Servants, that this charitable meat is apt to stink in hot Weather, for want of its due cleaning, boiling, and laying in a cool Place. However, the Poor are very glad of this Dole, as it does their Families considerable Service. ‘And to recover such tainted Meat, this Woman, after boiling and cleansing it well, chops and minces it very small, and when mixed with some Pepper, Salt, chop’d Sage, Thyme, and Onion, she bakes it: This for a savoury Pye. At another Time she makes a sweet Pye of this flesh, by mixing a few Currants and Plumbs with it. But in either Form the Taint is so lessened that it is hardly to be perceived.’

Copies of Harvey Day's The Complete Book of Curries are available from Amazon Books

1 comment:

kingmagic said...

Very interesting.
Whilst reading the part on "stinking meat" my stomach flipped. This is due I think to the most awful buffet that I have ever eaten from last night! It was an Ambulance Christmas works do and the food was well dodgy to say the least!
Have a good Christmas....kingmagic.