A Cook's Diary

There’s more to pudding than bread and milk

Growing up, when someone mentioned “pudding” at home, it meant a mixture of torn stale bread, eggs and milk poured into molds then steamed until firm. Had anyone said that leche flan and molded gelatin were also puddings, people would have been horrified. But it is true, the bread-eggs-milk pudding is only one classification of puddings. It was a jaw-dropping revelation for someone who always thought that the definition of pudding was straight and stringent.

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The kinds of pudding are so many that it blows my mind. There are savory puddings which aren’t sweet at all. For instance, the Scottish haggis (which really looks like a sausage) and the Italian polenta are puddings.

Among the sweet puddings, there are those without any bread. There’s rice pudding, Yorkshire pudding (or popovers) made with flour, and tapioca pudding which you can even buy in “instant” form in boxes.

And, yes, there are creamy puddings which include leche flan (creme caramel), creme brulee and panna cotta.

What is the common denominator then? What makes all of them puddings? Well, if you mix several ingredients then add a starch (or starchy ingredient) to bind them all, then you mold or form the mixture and bake, steam or boil it, then you have a pudding.

According to my iMac’s dictionary:

ORIGIN Middle English (denoting a sausage such as black pudding): apparently from Old French boudin ‘black pudding,’ from Latin botellus ‘sausage, small intestine.’

And that should explain why the Scottish haggis is classified as a pudding.

Why all this talk about pudding? Am I going to start a pudding blog? No, but I did make an apple and raisin pudding, and I had it with toffee. Delicious!

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