Friday, 3 December 2010

On the 2nd Day of Christmas, this expat is looking forward to:

...Proper mince pies.

For those of you not aware of what I'm up to here, Next have very kindly sent me twelve beautiful illustrations for each verse of the carol 'The Twelve Days of Christmas', and to use them wisely I've decided to write about what I, as an expat due to be back in the UK for the holidays, am most looking forward to when I get there.

Which brings me to proper mince pies. I don't care if they're home-made or shop-bought (although obviously - OBVIOUSLY - my mother's are the most delicious in the world), just as long as they are deep-filled, full of delicious spicy mincemeat and, in an ideal world, topped with icing sugar. AND cream. Or brandy butter. If I must. (Well, it would be rude not to, don't you think?)

In the spirit of intrepid expat-ness, I tried to make them here, but unfortunately they came in under the bracket 'sorry excuse for a proper mince pie'. This was last weekend; I had made them to take to my first ever Thanksgiving Lunch.

'Bring something festive from your country of origin' the invitation said. I didn't think a plate of tinsel would do it, so found some mincemeat (purloined from a generous neighbour) and for the first time in my life, made sweet pastry. They tasted - all right. If a little dry.

But I shouldn't have bothered. After the fact, I remembered past experience of having to educate friends of different nationalities that the 'mincemeat' in mince pies doesn't actually contain any meat. (Or at least, it hasn't done for a couple of hundred years). We arrived at the party, along with 12 mince pies that could have done with a slightly less dry pastry. And back home we came again, with 11 of them. Not a single person there - other than me, who took pity on the plate of pies sitting forlornly on the table surrounded by empty dishes - could bring themselves to try something that was supposed to be sweet with the name 'mince' in the title.

But yet, everyone else there was happy to eat pumpkin, in a pie. And I stand by my mince pies in light of that, when I compare them to the pumpkin pie which was served. I tried some. It was OK. Not great. Not earth shaking. Just - all right. Actually, I'm told it was pretty good pumpkin pie as pumpkin pies go, it's just that, well. Pumpkin? As a pudding?

On the plus side, I was able to say hand on heart to my hostess that it was the best pumpkin pie I had ever tasted.

What I left out was that it was also the only pumpkin pie I had ever tasted...

Today's Top Pick from the Next Site

This was a toughie - but only because my chosen area of interest for today, boots suitable for the Moscow winter, was mainly sold out. Living in the UK, as probably most readers of this blog do, I imagine that most people don't need to factor temps of -25degC and below along with the ability to deal with the chemicals etc that get thrown on the roads and pavements here into your choice of shoe; in which case, click here and enjoy!


  1. I've never had mince either but I have huge amounts of pumpkin dessert recipes. In the U.S. most people don't think of pumpkin as anything other than a dessert food. When I talk about pumpkin ravioli I get strange looks.

  2. I've just ordered mincemeat online, as I can't seem to find it anywhere here - we're having a mulled wine and mince pie party before Christmas. I hope our American guests at least try one! Do you think it's the mince in the name that put them off? Maybe I should rechristen them....fruit pies? Christmas pies?

  3. first visit to your blog - enjoyed and will be back - thank you

  4. My wife turns into a mince pie factory at this time of year. Infact, last week I found a few left over from last year in a biscuit tin at the back of the cupboard. Amazingly, they tasted OK but, I was not brave enough to eat a full one, i only had a mouthfull.

  5. Heather, it's all about your frame of reference, I guess...

    NVG, I would have been surprised if you could find it - and yes, I think rebranding the mince pies would be a very good plan. Unless you want to keep them all for yourself, obviously.

    KM, me too!

    Thanks Lorraine!

    Gary, you are a braver man than me. Year old mince pies? REALLY?


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