Christmas Taste Tests: On the Spice Trail

Written by on December 19, 2012 in Seasonal - No comments
non-alcoholic christmas food and drink

Cloves (photo: mer de glace)

Forget family, presents and goodwill: Christmas is actually a time for Christmas puddings, mulled wine and other such self-indulgent treats. And if you don’t drink alcohol, then it’s also a time to either turn detective or get creative.

In the next couple of posts, I shall be putting a variety of alcohol-free Christmas puddings and festive drinks to the taste-test.

So last weekend, while others were basking in the smugness of their own home-made Christmas puddings from ‘Stir up Sunday‘, I went on the search for some ready-made ones.

I’ll be sharing the results with you in the next few days, so keep your eyes peeled for some (UK-centric) festive buying advice!

Choosy

For the Christmas puddings, I went for the traditional style; that is, the dark, fruit-filled, stodgy beast you are supposed to wolf down after the largest meal of the year, having already spend much of the day eating chocolate coins and selection boxes (come on – I’m not the only big kid in town, am I?). For the drinks, meanwhile, I went for hot, mulled beverages.

Online, I found lists of alcohol-free Christmas products, but when I went to the supplier’s websites many of the items had been re-branded or appeared as ‘out of stock’. So I ventured out into the supermarkets in person, returning with a giant stocking’s-worth of festively-spiced goodies.

‘Tis the season to be spicy

The festive spice aspect is significant as they are also a non-drinkers dream come true: fragrant, rich and enticing, with complex flavours and a nice kick. I’m actually an all-year-round kind of gal when it comes to spices, but particularly enjoy wallowing in the heady aroma of the Christmas kitchen scent.

Winter here is generally cold and wet, so you can easily see why we Brits seek out warmth and comfort, and how spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves became associated with the festive season. Though these spices originate from Asia, they found their way into the food of the Sultans in the Middle East and it is thought they were brought to Europe by the Crusaders.

The beauty of these exotic spices is that they have oodles of flavour and fragrance, and so you likely won’t miss the alcohol at all – and neither will your family and friends. After all, these spices are hugely popular in countries with large non-drinking populations and some of the most sumptuous food and drinks known to man.

Of course, that doesn’t mean all alcohol-free festive food and drink is the same, hence our forthcoming taste tests.

Check back in the next few days to find out which Christmas puddings and hot mulled drinks we recommend!

About the Author

is a scientist, skeptic and dedicated scrumptious-food enthusiast. She doesn't live the alcohol-free lifestyle full time, but has an interest in the subject and is a previous participant in Dry January. She could bake most people under the table.

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