Predictably it’s at this time of year that conversation turns to ‘what you do in your country’ to celebrate Christmas; and this inevitably leads to some bright spark, in French class, suggesting that everyone bring in a little something to share and compare before the end of term.
Thus I discovered that it is impossible to buy mince pies in Strasbourg!
So I have been forced to attempt to cook them from scratch, that is – even starting with the mincemeat filling a fortnight before the rest of the pie, because you can’t buy ready made mixture here either.
And voila – I discovered exactly what constitutes ‘mincemeat’; and to be frank – I’m not sure I ever want to consume a traditional mince pie again.
I’m talking chiefly about ‘suet’. That’s the stuff you can usually find in a packet somewhere in the baking/puddings section of Tesco’s, but in France you have to go to the butchers (oh yes) .. and ask for the “fat from around the kidneys of a cow” .. and if your stomach can hold together – you take that lump of offal home with you (for that’s what it is) – shred it up and put it in your traditional British mince pie.
I think I might have to disown my heritage this time next year.