Tag Archives: traditions

Ice Cream for Breakfast Day: An Annual Alternative to Frosties

Ever heard of Ice Cream for Breakfast Day?

It will come as little surprise to learn that this event, now celebrated throughout the world, originated in the U.S.A., when a particularly snowy day in mid-sixties Rochester, New York, saw all schools closed and the neighbourhood children at a loose end.

The story goes that resourceful mother of six, Florence Rappaport, placated her confined and irritable offspring by suggesting that they enjoy the delights of ice cream as their first meal of the day. And from that day forward, the first Saturday in February was known in Florence’s house as Ice Cream for Breakfast Day.

The tradition began to spread when the children grew and went to college, where they introduced their friends to the custom. Further kudos for this icy, morning treat was gained when Florence’s well-travelled grandchildren encouraged their global acquaintances to give it a try.

What began as a family celebration has, to date, been witnessed as far afield as Nepal, Namibia, Germany, New Zealand, Honduras and China, and has gained particular popularity in Israel.

In contemporary America, ice cream vendors have begun to use Ice Cream for Breakfast Day as a fundraising tool for various charity organisations.

So, why not try bacon flavour? Originating in a 1973 comedy sketch by The Two Ronnies, this unlikely combination was brought to life by Heston Blumenthal as an April Fools’ Day joke. Created by adding bacon to a scrambled egg custard, it now features as a signature dish on his menus.

Or if you don’t fancy that, how about some garlic ice cream? According to The Stinking Rose, a San Francisco restaurant that proudly boasts that all of its dishes contain this pungent ingredient, garlic ice cream is essentially vanilla with added garlic. Can’t wait to sample that one!!

Or for a fishy alternative, Oyster ice cream has been around since 1842 and was featured in Mark Twain’s ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’. But if none of these exotic flavours fills your cone, there’s always trusty old choc-chip or raspberry ripple.

When you look out of your window on a cold February morning to see everything covered in frost, you may think that a bowl of steaming porridge might warm your cockles. But just once a year you could indulge yourself on Ice Cream for Breakfast Day. You never know, it could catch on.

Tony Flower

The Origins of Christmas Pudding

Here in Britain, no Christmas is complete without a helping of Christmas pudding (or ‘figgy pudding’ as it is called in the popular carol, We Wish You a Merry Christmas). A blend of dried fruit, spices, suet and other ingredients, it is often made to traditional family recipes and sometimes left to age a whole year before being served.

Its appearance at the dinner table is one of the highlights of the festive season, as described in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843): ‘Mrs. Cratchit entered – flushed but smiling proudly – with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.’

But where did the custom of Christmas Pudding originate?

According to popular belief, Christmas pudding dates back to medieval times, when it was prepared with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and the apostles, and stirred from east to west in honour of the journey made by the magi. However, no definite recipes for ‘plum pudding’ appear until the 1600s. Back then, it was associated more with the Harvest Festival than with Christmas.

Another myth claims that King George I began the Christmas pudding tradition in 1714, when he asked for ‘plum pudding’ to be served during his first royal Christmas feast. He has been nicknamed ‘The Pudding King’ as a result,  but sadly there is no contemporary evidence for this story.

The tale of the 18th century Pudding King probably originated as late as 1911, when the Strand Magazine described how the royal children of King George V’s household enjoyed  a Christmas Dinner of ‘traditional roast turkey, sausages and plum pudding. The latter, by the way, is made from a recipe that has been in possession of the Royal Family since the days of George I.’

Whether or not George I had plum pudding at his feast, it was an important feature of Christmas dinner by Victorian times (like so many of our Christmas traditions, it was made fashionable by the queen’s husband, Prince Albert). In 1845, the cook Eliza Acton finally gave it the name ‘Christmas Pudding’ .

Today most of us buy our Christmas puddings ready-made, but they are still based on recipes passed down from olden times – and, when the brandy is set alight, we still feel that same sense of wonder and delight!

Louisa Watson