What is it with classic holiday desserts and their Marmite quality? For the uninitiated: Marmite is the hideous (delicious) yeasty gunk(spread) that you put on your breakfast toast everyday (stay away from the farthest you can). There – that hopefully explains what ‘Marmite quality’ means.
We have the Christmas pudding. The Americans have the pumpkin pie. Both loved or hated in equal measures.
Christmas pudding is an over-fruited, over-boozed (yes, there is such a thing, when it comes to food) concoction which is weirdly steamed instead of baked. You then put a flame to it, probably in a weak attempt to turn it to ashes so no one has to eat it, but the flame dies smothered with fruit and booze and the pudding is thrown at the defenceless, over-turkeyed Christmas crowd.
Pumpkin pie is a strange product: delightful shortcrust pastry case ruined by the bland and sickly at the same time, vegetable (wrong on so many levels) goo. Search ‘why I hate pumpkin pie’ and you get a thousand returns. Still invariably it rides out at Thanksgiving, Halloween and festivities in between the two. They’d serve it at Christmas too if the Christmas celebrations weren’t somewhat austere in America.
But there are lovers of both too, of course, otherwise they would perish in culinary hell with tongue in aspic and syllabub. For those lovers I have tried my best featuring a baked, unboozed Christmas pudding and now zinging up the blandness of a pumpkin pie with cranberries. What do you know? It is an improvement – and marrying the festive, autumnal couple clearly produces a stable relationship.