In 2014, my foodie-filled family decided to add a twist to our Christmas dinner.
An *Oliver* twist, that is.
We had a Dickensian Christmas dinner, full of potluck goodies ranging from popovers (a.k.a. Yorkshire Pud) to plum pudding.
(See what I did there with the Oliver Twist reference?)
We think of Charles Dickens, of course, when the term “Dickensian” is thrown around, whether it’s his uber-famous novels like A Christmas Carol and the aforementioned Oliver Twist, or more modern uses like the British TV series of the same name.
(P.S. Probably a good idea to buy the whole Charles Dickens box set if you don’t already own it.)
When it comes to food in his works, however, most of it’s related to the very, very poor, rather than the robust feasts you might find in other period dramas like Emma or Downton Abbey.
One obvious exception to this is in A Christmas Carol, when Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present, and is shown a feast to top all feasts.
But, Dickens’s whole reason for including that was to (hopefully) encourage Scrooge to see the light about all the suffering that surrounds him.
I won’t go further; we all know how the story ends.
While Dickens may have shown food in a more meager light in many of his novels, our family’s Dickensian Christmas dinner didn’t shape up to include things like gruel or a simple loaf of bread.
We pulled together a menu that would have rivaled that of Scrooge’s nephew, or even Dickens himself — a noted Victorian foodie who grew up very poor, but amassed great wealth as an adult.
Our recipe lineup was inspired by the early 18th Century, and is full of so many classic and historic recipes that have gone by the wayside in modern times.
So, what was on the menu?
Things like ham, roast duck, curried fish, Yorkshire pud, duchess potatoes, winter salad, glazed carrots and plum “Christmas” pudding (which, by the way, takes a lot of planning to do effectively!).
Dickensian Christmas Dinner Menu
There are a slew of other items we could have added to make this even *more* Dickensian — things like meat pie, biscuits (as in cookies), breads and cake.
I have no shame in giving a nod to The Great British Baking Show for stoking the baking flame for recipes that we Americans haven’t thought of in centuries…
Be sure to watch it for some feel-good, uplifting, put-a-smile-on-your-face, programming, and for some “great bakes,” as they say!
Cheers to holiday food!