01 December 2016, The Tablet

Custom made


Most of our traditional Christmas dishes have remained unchanged for at least a century, roast turkey being the most recent innovation, introduced by the Victorians. In the twenty-first century, however, deviations to seasonal food customs are happening at an alarming rate, arguably more to benefit retailers than consumers.

Supermarket chains crave notoriety in the Christmas season, either looking to be the cheapest or, in some cases, using innovation to grab headlines. The reinvention trend began five years ago with a Waitrose Christmas pudding containing a hidden candied orange. Since then we have been offered mince pies and puddings with every imaginable added aroma, from ginger and cardamom to fir tree-scented sugar.

This year’s twist includes a “Christmas pudding Turkey,” described by Waitrose as a “mulled cider-brined turkey breast [with] a fragrant Christmas ham stuffing, topped with smoked cranberry butter [and] finished with a marmalade glaze”. What next, a goose stuffed with minced reindeer and candied carrot?

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