The proof of the pudding
Here’s when plum pudding will excite you:
- If you’re living on old-style English cuisine and your usual dessert is a bland, sweet pudding enlivened with, gosh, a handful of currants or a spoonful of gooseberry jam
- If you’re a medieval peasant and your standard winter fare is boiled turnips with small quantities of salted meat
- If plum pudding was one of your Christmas traditions and so it’s redolent with feasts and festivities and family fun
If you’re not in one of those three groups, you will wonder what all the fuss is about: plum pudding is heavy, it’s packed with dried fruit (when you could be eating fresh cherries and mangoes) and it’s difficult: you make it weeks ahead of time, you mustn’t get flour on the pudding cloth, you have to hang it from the ceiling and you boil it for hours on Christmas Day and it must never go off the boil.
- If you don’t want to do pudding, don’t do pudding and don’t be swayed by anyone who tells you that it’s essential.
- If you want easy pudding, buy one of the many excellent commercial offerings you can find in the shops.
- If your gang like plum pudding, hop in.
- If some do and some don’t, up the ante by cooking silver coins into it or by serving it with to-die-for brandy sauce.
Christmas Day 1970: Before Christmas dinner, my cousin Peter told me that he had got up twice during the night: the first time he crept out, the adults were still awake and he managed to sneak back to bed without being seen. But the second time was four o’clock and he went into the lounge room, had a good look at all his presents (and at everyone else’s) and then he slipped out to the tent and went to sleep again. I was astonished: it simply hadn’t occurred to me that one could ignore a strict parental command. (And even at the age of eight, I wondered whether a sneak preview was really worth the effort and the risk.)
 Or have them do it themself. Uncle Jim cooked the pudding the year Auntie Margie went on strike over Christmas (I never heard the details but I believe it was something to do with a puppy, a box of chocolates and a white couch) and every year after that, he made sure he kept Auntie Margie sweet in December.
 I ate three serves of pudding as a seven year old to get the sixpences and my cousin Peter managed four and this was on a feast day when we were both full before we’d started.