The Christmas pudding has been a fixture on British tables for centuries — even before Charles Dickens made such a pudding fuss in “A Christmas Carol” — but Americans can’t seem to stomach the thought of the traditional U.K. holiday dessert.
Christmas pudding is basically a sloppy, booze-fueled fruit cake with some fat from a cow’s kidneys thrown in.
“I know it sounds like a horrible thought but this is what makes it such an incredible delicacy,” said celebrity chef Nigella Lawson.
You mix it up weeks or months in advance, allowing it to mature. Then on Christmas morning, the pudding sweats long and slow — and Brits can’t get enough of it. Puddings made by celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal for the supermarket Waitrose sell out in a flash, and these puddings now can be found on eBay for insane price tags.
At Fortnum and Mason, a high-end grocery and food supplier to Queen Elizabeth II, Christmas puddings fly off the shelves at $60 a pop.
“We actually do keep our puddings for a year, two years, and they’re still absolutely wonderful puddings,” said Jonathan Miller, a buyer for Fortnum and Mason. “Arguably. they’re more interesting.”
But those puddings that are up to two years old are kept for research, Fortnum and Mason added.
But while there’s a big market for Christmas puddings in the U.K., there’s not much of an export market. The Brits have invented and exported the television, the steam engine, penicillin, soccer, the jet engine, Viagra, the ”World Wide Web” and, of course, English, but no one else seems to want our Christmas pudding.
“I think most people who don’t come from Britain think of it as something that is immensely heavy and indigestible,” Lawson said. “A kind of cannonball.”
American suspicion of the dessert can be traced all the way back to the early settlers, Lawson said, who feared such festive cheer.
“All I will tell you is that the Christmas pudding was banned by the Puritans as it was considered the invention of the scarlet whore of Babylon,” Lawson said. “Until you’ve eaten a steamed British pudding, you haven’t lived.”
Get “Nightline” producer Paolo Marenghi’s recipe for Christmas pudding HERE