We eat 370 million mince pies in this country. Repeat, 370 million. For a country that holds 66 million, that’s about 6 mince pies, per person, every year.
We know that’s wrong.
Go on, and go and count how many you’ve had and it’s only December 11th. Sure, you’ve not had the 370 million pies yourself but you are three steps closer to being called the “Not-So-Skinny” Controller by your 3 year old nephew. Kids can be cutting.
And here’s the shock confession from me, the editor of a food and drink magazine, I hadn’t had one in the first three decades of my life. I hear the sounds of phone screens being locked and I admit, I would have done the same if Jay Rayner admitted to never have eaten a packet of crisps with some dipping sauce in his food critiquing career thus far.
You’re shocked the way I am when someone tells me that “I wasn’t alive when Nirvana were around” or “I’ve never seen Lethal Weapon.” Both admittedly could be an “age thing” but I like to think of them as being massively under-pop cultured and charlatans when then wearing, a Charlatans t-shirt to a gig.
It says something that I never had one, or wanted to try one. A mince pie is synonymous with Christmas for the Brits and I probably just didn’t get it. Maybe I confused mince with minced, the way a 16 year old school leaver doesn’t realise that milk comes from a cow, but they’re just fucking morons, I was simply mistaken.
For years I smuggled them into Italy, Switzerland, Germany and the States – all in the name of family get togethers. Whilst you get to have your own stressful times at home, I have the “pleasure” of flying for what the experts call, the “start of the downfall”…
The fear of airport security is real. You’ve never had to experience the guilt and embarrassment of taking 13 boxes of mince pies through airport security on December 24th, and if you have, then, you know that sinking feeling when your bag goes into the “processing” area of security.
Causing some sort of mass security alert proceeded with a full body search and threat of probing may be on your checklist but it is the least of mine and yet this year, I suspect I will have to do the same.
I suspect that I will have to take a product that I’ve only come to love myself in the last few years through more security, more questions, more stop and searches and this begs the question why? Why is a mince pie so yearned in a nation that eats 370 million a year, and by the people that left the island years ago? Why when we look to the rest of the world for our food choices do we fall for this shortcrust delight?
Why hasn’t the UK gone mad for yule time pasteis? Why aren’t we scoffing more scandi based cinnamon rolls and why haven’t we gone completely American over eggnog? As much as as anyone would want you to believe otherwise, what the UK is brilliant at, is actually absorbing culture. Food, drink, language, business and all the while keeping its own identity.
I could try and smuggle goose fat this year. Cheddar or pickle. Beans always go down so well, but a Christmas without a good mince pie isn’t worth the threat of detention, or potential of being placed in quarantine by Helga, the German border guard. I am lucky that I get to travel, that I get to experience lots of other cultures, but maybe this one cornerstone of British food is something that one day my nephews would get detained for when smuggling a pack of six to Uncle Gino, or so I can dream.