Miss Scar­lett's guide to Suf­folk liv­ing

Miss Scar­lett (aka Sandy Rud­dock) is a mother, step-mother, god­mother, aunt, daugh­ter, sib­ling, daugh­ter-in-law, friend, boss and en­tre­pre­neur

EADT Suffolk - - Drink -

MISS SCAR­LETT IN THE KITCHEN WITH THE MINCE PIES

What’s Mrs Bee­ton got to say about Christ­mas? Her food-writ­ing helped to rev­o­lu­tionise the way the Vic­to­ri­ans pre­pared for Christ­mas, and not just in a gas­tro­nomic way. Un­til the reign of Queen Vic­to­ria, Christ­mas was not a glit­ter­ing af­fair. Vic­to­ria’s hus­band, Al­bert, made our Bri­tish Christ­mas sparkle with the in­tro­duc­tion of Ger­man tra­di­tions, such as a dec­o­rated tree, the like of which we now all take for granted. But it was Mrs Bee­ton who stirred it all up and helped bring the in­gre­di­ents to the Christ­mas we now recog­nise to­day. When we beat our­selves up over the prep of a fes­tive feast, it’s Mrs Bee­ton we can blame. Bread sauce, like or lump it, is all down to her, along with plan­ning, prepa­ra­tion and pigs in blan­kets. All I can say is, thanks a bunch!

THAT’S A LOTTA PIES . . .

I’d al­ways thought that mince pies were a very Bri­tish tra­di­tion but ap­par­ently they orig­i­nated in the Mid­dle East in the 13th cen­tury. Our ver­sions used to be known as Mut­ton Pie, Shrid Pie (yes re­ally) or even Christ­mas Pie and were first filled with meat, very of­ten lamb, and made to give to fes­tive vis­i­tors. The meat would have been minced and in me­dieval times mixed with fruit, cin­na­mon and nut­meg. The Tu­dors loved them and ap­par­ently they were a culinary savoury favourite of Henry VIII (I think he might have eaten rather too many). It was the sweet-toothed Vic­to­ri­ans that helped the mince pie on its way to the sweeter ver­sion we love to guz­zle to­day. Mrs Bee­ton gives us a num­ber of dif­fer­ent mince pie recipes – for­tu­nately only one is meat filled – and the sweeter much loved pie has be­come a sta­ple in most homes over Christ­mas, In Bri­tain we glut­tons con­sume an un­be­liev­able 370 mil­lion each year.

It’s cru­cial that you stir clock­wise when mak­ing mince pies other­wise you will have a hun­dred years’ bad luck which frankly

would be very dull. For those of us who are su­per­sti­tious, don’t worry, I have the per­fect an­ti­dote for mis­taken anti-clock­wise stir­ring. One mince pie ev­ery day for the 12 days of Christ­mas will bring you good luck, although you may end up look­ing like Henry VIII.

HAV­ING A WON­DER­FUL TIME

Christ­mas in Suf­folk is a very spe­cial time. As a county, we cel­e­brate it well. There are nu­mer­ous Christ­mas fairs, concerts, work­shops and lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties to taste de­li­cious del­i­ca­cies from around the re­gion. There’s some­thing for ev­ery­one through­out the month. Those with lit­tle ones shouldn’t miss the ar­rival of Fa­ther Christ­mas by barge at Snape Malt­ings on Satur­day, De­cem­ber 16, at 12.30pm. There is al­ways a huge num­ber of won­der­ful carol ser­vices tak­ing place – one year a friend of mine at­tended nine. She must have been very bad that year. That’s quite a marathon and maybe one is enough. My favourite would be the Christ­mas Eve ser­vice at St Michael’s in Fram­ling­ham.

What about a fes­tive dip? Felixs­towe and South­wold are in­fa­mous for their brac­ing swims on Christ­mas Day. If any­one sug­gests I go for a Christ­mas swim, I might not be able to find my swim­ming cos­tume but I’ll of­fer to stay at home and keep the mince pies warm!

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