Dec 18, 2013 Joe Genco Uncategorized
Though most of the characters in Dickens Christmas have sung “now bring us some figgy pudding” from “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” many of them had never tried the dessert, until this year.
New this year, festival goers have the chance to sample some authentic figgy pudding made by Michele Chandler of Puddings Matter.
Chandler has been giving out free samples and selling her puddings at Mid-Lakes Navigation during this year’s festival.
Though they live in Toronto, Chandler and husband Bob Gilfoil have plenty of Skaneateles connections. Bob is a native of Skaneateles and his family owns a summer house in town. In addition to being familiar with the community, Dickens seemed like a good fit for promoting the puddings due to the English connection, Chandler said.
The puddings are a staple at Christmas time in England, in fact, in “A Christmas Carol” there is mention of Mrs. Cratchit serving figgy pudding at dinner. The namesake of the pudding is King George I, of England, who was know as the “Pudding King” and is credited as popularizing the dish during his reign in the early 1700s.
The dessert, also sometimes called plum pudding, takes about three weeks to complete. It is composed mostly of dried fruits which are soaked in brandy and then left to dry. It can also be topped with warm brandy and lit on fire before being served.
Michele said she had perfected the recipe for her puddings over the past 10 years, when she would make them every year for friends and relatives. After realizing that there was no comparable authentic English pudding on the market in North America, she decided to start selling hers. This led to the launch of Puddings Matter with partner Sue Buchanan, which so far has been a success, Chandler said.
They have made 2,200 puddings this year and have sold them to retailers and restaurants in locations all around the region and in Canada. The demand has been higher than they expected, meaning the business will likely return next year and continue to grow, she said.
In addition to selling puddings, they have also been collecting donations for the Skaneateles Ecumenical Food Pantry. The suggested donation for anyone stopping in for a sample is 25 cents though many have given more. They have already raised more than $300 and hope to top $1,000 by the conclusion of Dickens, Michele said.
“We suggest 25 cents, but most people put in a dollar,” Chandler said. “That has been a real nice plus.”
The puddings come in two sizes: the King George, which costs $20 and serves five to six people and the Prince Geroge, which costs $8 and serves one to two people. They can be found at Mid-Lakes Navigation during Dickens Christmas and also at Mirbeau Inn and Spa, Creekside Books and Coffee and Vermont Green Mountain Specialty Company.
Joe Genco is the editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.