Boars’ heads and bustards: the unsavoury history of festive foods

Ideas

Boars’ heads and bustards: the unsavoury history of festive foods

A US website got in a stew with its mince recipe mix-up, but it wasn’t that wide of the mark

Felicity Cloake

Did the Americans not smell a festive rat as they packed raw beef into sweet pastry? Or was it not until they topped it with sliced apples and sugar that things seemed suspect? Perhaps, in fact, the whole idea seemed fairly plausible until they contemplated the full horror of serving the mincemeat tart with custard or brandy sauce.

Yet, still, US website The Spruce Eats gamely pressed publish on a recipe by British food writer Elaine Lemm, illustrated by their own photographs, showing all too clearly that Lemm’s call for “9oz mincemeat” (255g) had very much been lost in translation. The resulting abomination stayed up for some time before it was spotted and shared on Twitter, where it has brought joy to thousands of Brits.

The site has now replaced their pictures. But as others, including chef Rowley Leigh and the Telegraph’s Diana Henry have pointed out, it wasn’t such an absurd idea given mincemeat did, in fact, contain meat until the 19th century (and still does if you include suet, the pure white fat that encases an animal’s kidneys)...

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