The Way I See It: Fig Newtons do not a figgy pudding make
- Wednesday, 07 December 2011
- Written by John Burns
The way I see it is, there are certain food items you only find at Christmastime. I can understand Christmas cookies. The name implies that you are only going to get them for Christmas, so you don’t expect them any other time of the year -- although since we seem to begin celebrating Christmas earlier and earlier each year, they might soon be on the shelves in September.
But how about egg nog? Why is it only available during the Christmas season? Go to your grocery store any other time and ask if they have any egg nog? You will most likely get a sympathetic look from your grocer, followed by the comment: “We only carry it at Christmas”. Why?
Another Christmastime-only item is “Peppermint Ice Cream”. Oh my….I do love that stuff. But can you get it in August? No way. So when it is in the stores, I buy several gallons of it because usually by mid-January you can’t find it anywhere.
"Why are there foods restricted to Christmas”, I asked nobody in particular? To find the answer, I decided to do some research on the subject. And it was in the course of this research that I discovered a Christmastime-only food item that really intrigued me.
That item: figgy pudding.
Most of us have heard of figgy pudding through the popular song, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”. One of the verses in that song we all know so well introduces us to this Christmastime food item with the words: “We all want some figgy pudding.”
I don’t know about you, but every time I hear that verse, or sing it for that matter, I say to myself, “what in the world is figgy pudding?”
It must really be good stuff because the second part of that verse, “We won’t go until we get some”, gives warning that those wanting figgy pudding are not about to leave until said pudding is provided. Now that implies to me that figgy pudding, whatever it is, must be one heck of a treat.
So, this being Christmastime and all, I decide to go looking for it in the grocery store. I felt sure that some store would carry “figgy pudding” during the holiday season.
But after looking through the shelves of several different stores and asking more then a few grocery clerks if they had this item -- which by the way got me some rather strange looks -- I decided figgy pudding could not be found. So I went to Google, which is the keeper of all things that you can’t find anywhere else, to try to find out if such a thing as figgy pudding does exist.
And what I found was not only does it exist, there was even a recipe for it. And it sounded darn good, which explains why folks would not leave until they got some. In the book “Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas”, figgy pudding is described as "a cake-like soufflé made with figs and walnuts”.
Now I am not a big fig eater. In fact, I am not sure that I have ever had a fig as such. But I have had fig preserves -- which were darn tasty -- and one of my favorite cookies is the Fig Newton, so I am thinking this should be good stuff, especially with walnuts.
The recipe instructions go on to say that it takes about fifteen minutes to prepare and an hour to bake. “That’s doable”, I say. But here was the clincher for me. “Once it is baked”, continued the instructions, “it is served by spooning the pudding onto a plate and garnishing it with whipped cream”.
I am not sure how you would feel, but at this point I was hooked…!!
Deciding that I had to try this, I began looking around for the fixings. But having no figs around, and being rather challenged in the kitchen when it comes to doing something like baking even if I did, I hit upon an idea that seemed logical.
I did have a package of Fig Newtons. So I said to myself, “Self, if you heat them up, would it not be much the same thing? Each cookie is sort-of-like a miniature cake...Except for the walnuts, would it not be pretty close to the recipe?"
So, bag of Fig Newton’s in hand, I open the microwave -- which I am semi-certified to use -- and place the package inside. I turn the microwave on high and set it for three minutes, figuring that ought to give the Newton’s a chance to get good and hot.
If you decide to try this, let me give you three pieces of advice that I learned from my experience.
1. Take the Fig Newton’s out of the bag.
2. Don’t set the microwave on high or for three minutes. After about 45-seconds, those innocent-looking little scudders begin to explode!!
3. When baked for any length of time, Fig Newtons tend to have the consistency of an industrial-brand glue and they will stick to everything they touch -- including you. (And adding whipped cream and walnuts doesn't help that much.)
So what is this all about, you might be asking?
For those who think some pudding for Christmas might be really good, and after reading this column find themselves wanting to give figgy pudding a try, get the recipe here and follow it. I am sure it will be very good.
But should you be like me and try the Fig Newton shortcut, do so knowing that I am still trying to clean up the microwave. I also think the first bite I had will forever be stuck to the roof of my mouth.