7 Christmas foods and drinks we need to cancel immediately; traditional or not, some things are just unforgivable when there are so many other delicious things to eat.
1. Christmas Pudding
It’s almost becoming as traditional to loathe this dessert as it is to eat it.
A slice of festive Christmas fruitcake isn’t too much to complain about, it keeps well and can be served in thin slices with a cup of tea or some salty cheese for balance. However, this pudding is just too much, it’s got to go.
Stodgy, heavy, alcoholic, I’m not just talking about your uncle, I’m talking about classic Christmas Pudding. Crammed with dried fruits that are plumped up with cheap brandy, sweetened too heavily with brown sugar, served hot and claggy by the spoonful. It’s a very British dessert that many around the world are quite rightly baffled by.
Not only is it an effort to make, it’s a real effort to eat. The traditional pudding must be steamed and can take over 4 hours to cook, taking up valuable space on your stove and consuming a hideous amount of your back-of-the-cupboard raisins. Following that, you have to force down mouthfuls of this heavyweight champion of pudding after an already belly-busting roast dinner. A truly privileged problem, but a problem nonetheless.
Something light and delicious like cheesecake, pavlovas, cakes, or cream-based desserts are much better suited to Christmas time. We’ve already eaten too much, and no one has time to steam a pudding.
It’s cold outside, you get into your lovely warm home and begin to peel off your many layers of clothing. You need something to drink. What you definitely do not need is a glass of raw eggs and cream.
Eggnog is another foodstuff that dates back hundreds of years. The English brought it to America and for some reason they loved the stuff. The US and Canada get through millions of litres of the stuff every year, with England and the UK as a whole almost completely forgetting about it.
It’s an alcoholic drink usually involving brandy, blended with cream, milk, sugar, spices and whipped eggs. Now, this could be delicious if cooked into a custard or frozen into ice cream, but the thought of gulping thick mouthfuls of this cold, frothy liquid is not appealing whatsoever.
Drink the mulled wine, drink the Christmas cocktails, even just drink a cup of tea, but don’t drink this stuff.
3. Candy Canes
I honestly don’t even know where to start with this one.
While candy canes are an iconic image of the festive season, and their contrasting stripes are always appealing to the eye, they really aren’t great to eat. A hard stick of boiled sugar flavoured with peppermint might have been appetising years ago before treats such as the salted caramel mince pie were invented, but nowadays they are nobody’s first choice.
They are often too big to lick through in one sitting and they taste like dental floss without any of the benefits to your enamel. Some brands try to create candy canes in new flavours such as berry or chocolate, but they are still very low in the rankings of Christmas sweets.
Some food bloggers (mostly stateside) have taken to shattering them and sprinkling them into cookies or on top of cakes and cheesecakes. Pretty as it might be, the thought of punctuating the chewy softness of a Christmas cookie with brutal shards of solid candy cane is hellish at best. Hang them on your tree and admire the pretty colours, but don’t subject yourself to eating them.
4. Marzipan Fruits
Apologies in advance if I retch.
Marzipan is one of very few foods that I utterly revile. The classic style, not contaminated with horribly soap-like almond extract, is fine, but the commercially available marzipan and all of its variations are something I simply cannot abide by.
Shaping the pungent paste and colouring it to resemble miniature fruits make it all the more horrifying. Why do we shape it into fruits? Why are they miniature? Why is it a Christmas thing? Why are they always unjustifiably expensive?
There are many questions one could ask about this bizarre food gift tradition, but I really don’t need the answer because I loathe them anyway. Marzipan wrapped around a cake is perfectly acceptable, as are chunks of marzipan in a stollen, but we cannot sensibly sell this stuff moulded into the shape of other food. They need to be cancelled.
5. Bucks Fizz
Nothing says “Christmas” like the taste of overly acidic, fizzy, cheap orange juice paired with equally acidic, fizzy, cheap sparkling wine.
What could be quite a refreshing drink or creative Christmas cocktail is all too often an exercise for your facial muscles as they recoil at the unwelcome sourness of this drink. It’s often overpriced when bought by the bottle, and is usually pretty bad when blended at home using an old plastic measuring jug too.
In an age when the internet can provide endless inspiration for festive drinks, we really have no excuse for Bucks Fizz. It’s also worth mentioning that mulled wine, flavoured gin liqueurs, dessert-like drinks such as Bailey’s are readily available at this time of year, and will all guarantee a much better time.
The scourge of the starter menu. A regular at office Christmas nights out and often your mum’s first choice, pâté needs to get in the bin. This is a foodstuff that is equally as disturbing when it’s rough and chunky as when it is pureed into a putrid pink paste. A blend of animal livers with herbs, spices and often alcohol or other meats, describing pâté is almost as difficult as ingesting it. Despite being able to easily nosh on the likes of crisp black pudding or spicy haggis, there is something about spreading fridge-cold meat-paste onto thin oatcakes that makes one shudder with horror.
There is nothing particularly festive or seasonal about pâté. Plus, your oatcakes deserve better, give them some delicious soft cheeses instead. Also, when hot roast turkey and crispy sausages are likely to be the meat of choice on the plate of your main course, why on EARTH would you subject yourself to the salty, fatty lick of cold, meaty pâté as an appetiser?
It’s common, it’s indulgent, but let’s leave it.
7. Bread Sauce
The name says it all really. A sauce made with onion, milk and spices, thickened with stale bread, brings to mind some kind of Dickensian punishment rather than a tasty topping for your turkey. Imagine being an old cow, spending your life hooked up to a machine that sucks your resources dry, only to find that your lovingly made milk has been turned into something as dreadful as bread sauce. Nothing short of devastating. Even speaking as a Scot who has, on many occasions, devoured bowls of gloopy porridge, plates of sloppy stovies, and the divisive meal of mince and tatties, I just cannot abide by the consumption of this less-than-enjoyable condiment. Especially on the special occasion feast that Christmas Dinner is, no one should have to save room for this stodgy stuff when roast potatoes and pigs in blankets grace the same table.
Thick and creamy in all the worst ways, this sauce is weird when it’s warm and utterly nauseating when it’s cold. It hasn’t a patch on cranberry sauce, no matter how cheap and sugar-laden said cranberry sauce may be, and it is infinitely less enjoyable that hot delicious gravy. Even a jug of poorly-stirred lukewarm Bisto is preferable to a ladle of the magnolia slop that is bread sauce. I understand the sentiment and tradition behind it, with bread-thickened sauces dating back to medieval times. However, the same could be said for jousting tourneys, horseback travel, and public hangings. I don’t believe any of those are due for a comeback any time soon. Some things should stay in the past. Pass me the gravy, please.
That’s it. Chuck these foods out and go enjoy some tasty things instead.