Why we eat mince pies at Christmas?
Some of us eat them by the dozens as Christmas approaches but there’s more to the mince pie than you may have realised.
We think the first mince pie was known by a few different names, “Christmas pie, mutton pie, and shrid pie" Usually filled with minced lamb, not dried fruit like we eat them today.
The ingredients can be traced back to the returning crusaders brought back recipes containing meats, fruits and spices from the Middle East. (think lamb and apricot tagine)
Both mince pies and Christmas puddings traditionally are made with thirteen ingredients to represent Christ and the Apostles
Mince pies were originally made in an oval shaped tin to represent the manger that baby Jesus slept in, with the lid representing his (blanket) swaddling clothes.
Today they are made in a round shape with the top decorated with a star or sprig of holly and can be eaten hot or cold.
One superstition from the middle ages suggests that if you eat a mince pie every day from Christmas day to Twelfth Night (evening of the 5th January) you will be guaranteed happiness for the next 12 months mmmm!
In the 17th century, the pies were initially rejected by the puritans as decadent, hedonistic and inherently Catholic!
Even in the 18th century, London's Gentleman's Magazine described how some Quakers saw the mince pie as "an invention of the scarlet whore of Babylon, a hodge-podge of superstition, popery, the devil, and all his works."
During the Georgian times, mince pies were a status symbol at Christmas! Wealthy people liked to show off at their Christmas parties by having pies made is different shapes. Shaped pies could often fit together like a jigsaw! Having posh pies meant you were rich and could afford to employ the best, and most skilled, pastry chefs!
in the 18th century, cheap sugar started arriving on our shores from plantations in the West Indies,
and mince pies began to get sweeter and more affordable
By the 19th century, the mince pie had acquired its now familiar taste. Cooks removed the meat but used a lot of beef suet (umami) to enhance the flavour and mouthfeel of their pies,
On Christmas Eve, children in the United Kingdom often leave out mince pies with brandy for Father Christmas, and a carrot for the reindeer.
Try making some chocolate laced ones here