Charles Dickens in 1843 not only wrote "A Christmas Carol," he set a stage, a backdrop, for our Christmas experience. One hundred fifty-three years later, it's difficult to imagine the Christmas season without Ebenezer Scrooge's ghostly encounters, endearing Tiny Tim, a Christmas goose, and plum pudding or other sweet treats.
In reading Dickens's classic, you can almost smell the gastronomic delights peppered throughout the pages:
"It was his own room. There was no doubt about that. But it had undergone a surprising transformation .... Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long ropes of sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, bushels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam.
"'Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. .... Oh, a wonderful pudding!' Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage.
"Then all the Cratchit family drew round the hearth in what Bob Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a one; and at Bob Cratchit's elbow stood the family display of glass. Two tumblers and a custard cup without a handle.
"These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as well as golden goblets would have done; and Bob served it out with beaming looks, while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and cracked noisily. Then Bob proposed:
"A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us everyone!" Which all the family re-echoed. "God bless us every one!" said Tiny Tim, the last of all."
We as readers of "A Christmas Carol," are enthralled with the foodstuffs and details of this holiday in Victorian England. Dickens surely sets the stage - the theme and steam of delicious foods, the festivity that accompanies the holiday, and the pure joy of family and friends together.