Mince Pies and Good Cheer
My friend WWW, whom I've never met, writes from Canada to blame me for his recent expansion in the area of his waist. Seems I made mention of homemade mince pies I gladly ingested at several recent hunt meets and, in order to satisfy his craving, he had to buy up all the packages of store-bought mince pies (a disgusting substitute, to be sure) he could find. I have visions of him hitting all the 24-hour stores and running through the door and up and down the aisles looking for those horrible little dried up mince pies in those little aluminium tins that come in packages of 6 or 12...poor WWW. It's as bad as getting a McDonald's hamburger instead of one of those big juicy real meat ones you might have at the best restaurant in town.
I went from being an American who'd never heard of a mince pie to one who loves them. At the Yatt the other night after a nice day's hunting I actually ate 3!!!!! mouth-wateringly good mince pies made by none other than local-legendary baker, Ann the Stones. And I counted my blessings. Lord help me if I see my cholesterol level after this Christmas season!
I have been showered with mince pies from one end of Wales to the other during this holiday season. And they were all homemade, except for the one I had at the hairdresser's yesterday which was "only" from Marks & Spencer. It's like you cannot get free of the things...though I must say I've enjoyed them all. And I too must look for some larger trousers due in part to the over-consumption of mince pies and glasses of port. Mince pie season only lasts for about two weeks, and I believe I've killed way more than my legal limit this season.
Now some of you are wondering just what a mince pie is and I'm afraid I can't rightly tell you. It's a little mini-pastry, sometimes in an aluminum tin, with a sweet pastry shell sort of like a miniature pie - and sweet filling of ??? raisins and gooey stuff, and more....you'll just have to have one. It's a whole lot better than fruit cake.
Do you guys like fruit cake? Over here it's like the national favorite dessert. I remember we had a fruit cake that circulated among my various relations every Christmas. It was the family joke. Nobody ever gave a thought to actually EATING the thing. I wonder whatever happened to it? Haven't seen it since the 1970s. I wonder if someone ate it! No, not possible. But over here people actually LOVE them and spend hours and hours making them and they put this marzipan (almond paste, tastes very nice) sort of frosting layer on them and cover it with this scary white roll-on thick sugary layer of tasteless icing....pretty weird. But I must admit, it tastes fairly good. It is LOADED with booze, too, and you make the things a couple of months or more before they're to be cut and eaten. Imagine!!!! There are probably fruitcakes around that are hundreds of years old.
Maybe people over here just like "pickled" things. You can get great jars of pickled onions. Pickled eggs are pretty popular, too. Me, I just get myself pickled on port and leave the other kinds of pickles to the pros.
Port? I have grown portly on port. And I continue to enjoy it immensely. While out near the Gospel Pass the other day following a local hunt as they exercised their hounds, I chanced to meet Viv and he insisted I should stop by and visit his partner, Tam, who would love to see me. While, I couldn't let her down! So I stopped into their lovely old home and we ate a lot of turkey and brie and grapes and cashews and all manner of nice food and washed it all down with some LOVELY port bottled back in 1989. If I didn't have so many curvey one-lane roads to negotiate on the 2o mile drive home I surely would have had more! It was that good.
Anyway the holiday season has been fun with stopping in on friends and having them stop by as well, with nice meals and interesting conversations, and a whole lot of hunting, too, which for me means being out in the countryside and listening to the hounds and watching the horses fly by with their manes and tails straight out in the wind. Many of these last days have been wet but the sun has found its way through from time to time and I live for those moments.
This is a nice time to be thankful for all the good things...and to remember those who are dear to us.