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article imageWhy do we eat certain foods during the Holidays?

By Tim Sandle     Dec 25, 2018 in Food
What's behind your Holiday food of choice? Opting for turkey or something vegan? Picking cake or cheese? Roger Adams, associate professor and rare books librarian for K-State Libraries looks at the history.
There's a huge range of different dishes associated with the Holiday season. Some examples are candy canes, chocolate yule log, Christmas cake, Christmas ham (usually a honey or marmalade glazed roast or boiled gammon joint) and Christmas pudding - and that's just the letter 'C'.
Some of these foods are to be enjoyed; others are eaten for the sake of tradition, although not really enjoyed. One food stuff that falls into this category is fruit cake, according to Roger Adams, who is the associate professor for the university archives and special collections at K-State Libraries,. Adams devotes some of his work to the study of traditional holiday foods,.
Examples of his inquires include including the figgy pudding requested in "We Wish You a Merry Christmas". Figgy pudding is a type of Christmas pudding which was originally made with figs. It may be baked, steamed in the oven, boiled or fried.
Adams has also looked into the the drink referred to in "Here We Come A-Wassailing,. Originally, the wassail was a drink made of mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and sugar.
A third example of Adams' study is with the sugarplums that danced in children's heads in "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." A sugar plum is a piece of dragée (a bite-sized form of confectionery with a hard outer shell) or hard candy made of hardened sugar in a small round or oval shape.
Of particular interest to Adams is the decline in popularity of the fruitcake. Adams tells Laboratory Manager magazine that the reason for the fruitcake's fall from grace is due to the quality and type of ingredients that are used. Today's recipe is nearly unrecognizable from the one of the past, he notes drawing on cookbooks dating back to 1487. The fruitcake stated back ancient Rome, where it consisted of pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, and raisins in a barley mash.
Then, by the Middle Ages in Europe dried fruits were added, plus honey and spices. Furthermore, the traditional fruitcake was saturated with alcohol to acts as a preservative. The cake also contained lard or suet, which also act as preservatives. Adams notes that this focus on preservation is consistent with most traditional Christmas foods and seeing populations through the harsh times of the winter.
More about Eating, Food, foodie, Snack, Christmas
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