‘Pudding fills the stomach. Pudding salves the soul. Pudding’s very solidity grounds us, and its traditional round or oval shape is unflinchingly simple.’
So says food historian Dr Annie Gray in the Forward to this book on that British institution, the pudding.
What is the essence of the book?
Pride & Pudding charts the history of the pudding (in its sweet and savoury guises) from it’s humble ‘waste not want not origins’ in the ancient Rome through to it’s nostalgic, more indulgent modern incarnations. Each chapter covers a different type of pudding from boiled and steamed puddings (think of the rotund plum variety) through to batter puddings (toad in the hole) and lighter delights such as jellies, milk puddings and ices (like the everlasting syllabub). Ysewijn has taken original recipes and adapted them for the 21st century kitchen. However, she also includes the original recipe plus a short explanation of it’s origins in the introduction.
About the author
Although she is writing about a quintessentially British culinary item, Ysewijn herself is a Belgian photographer and graphic designer. British culinary history has long held a fascination for her and she has been writing about it on her blog missfoodwise.com for more than five years.
Who will like it?
Anyone with an interest in food history. A penchant for puddings too, is a given.
Who won’t like it?
If you’re more the ‘clean eating’ type who craves salad leaves and quinoa then this probably isn’t going to be your thing.
What do I like about the book?
Ysewijn is a woman after my own heart. We share a fascination with the social and cultural history of Britain and how this is reflected through our food. She has obviously done an incredible amount of research and the book is peppered with unusual facts like ‘did you know the Jam Roly-Poly was nicknamed “Dead Man’s Arm” due to the custom of it being boiled in an old shirt sleeve?’. This book also happens to contain some truly evocative imagery. Ysewijn takes inspiration for her food styling from the Dutch and Flemish Renaissance paintings she grew up with. This approach really works in the context of historical puddings. If anyone can make a pudding look sexy Ysewijn can.
But if I were being really picky…
Perhaps the text doesn’t flow quite as eloquently as that of other historical food writers. To be fair to Ysewijn she is not writing in her mother tongue (and her English is a damn sight better than my Dutch or French!). This doesn’t stop the book from being a hugely enjoyable read, though.
Would I cook from it?
Yes. I’ll definitely use it as a point of reference when doing my own historical research too.
Where can you buy it?
Pride and Pudding by Regula Ysewijn (Murdoch Books, £20)