This article was written by Big Les & was originally published in The MuscleTalker December 2011 edition
The now traditional Christmas, or plum, pudding is widely regarded to have its origins as a soupy porridge known as frumenty, although you can see it's a forerunner in the very earliest of mince pies. Being a dish which could keep for a long time, along with another Christmas tradition, mulled wine, plum pudding was developed as a way of keeping food from spoiling over the winter.
Early frumenty could contain beef fat (suet), prunes, currants, raisins, spices and sometimes even meats were added. This dish was definitely runny with a more soup like consistency. By the 17th Century, frumenty was more pudding than soup with eggs, breadcrumbs and even beer being added and we recognize the dish as the plum pudding we see today. It is commonly said when talking of Christmas pudding that it was banned by Oliver Cromwell, sadly. Although Oliver and his friends were kill-joys, they did not actually ban Christmas pudding; instead it was decreed that Christmas day be a fasting not feasting day. They also tried to make a lot of other fun things illegal, and when ousted their laws were simply ignored or reversed. So with Oliver gone, the path was clear for the Christmas pudding to once again become England's favorite pudding.
Traditionally Christmas pudding is made on the first Sunday before Advent, which in some parts is known as 'stir it up Sunday'. In 1714, George the First gave plum pudding his seal of approval, and the Quakers' called it the "invention of the scarlet whore of Babylon"; two things which, no doubt, served to enhance its appeal. It was also in the 1700s that meat disappeared from the dish as storage and preservation techniques improved.
In 1830 Eliza Action published the first recipe for Christmas pudding, and it was under Queen Victoria that it became a firm Christmas tradition, although that had started with George the century before. It's also said that the ingredients, making and garnish of pudding are symbolic of Jesus, the apostles, the Magi, and Jesus crown of thorns, while others see them as rather tasty.
All of this history brings us to the nutritional value of a Christmas pudding which, I hope you can see, is at best somewhat dubious. Although it should have a good amount of fibre! However, with estimates that average Christmas day calorie consumption is 7000 calories, a serious Christmas day cheat would be well advised to hit the calorie dense and immensely unhealthy Christmas Pudding as a way to push to the top of any Christmas day calorie challenge.