Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, Christmas Eve has FINALLY arrived at 13 Piccadilly Terrace in the year 1815!
Although Lord Byron remains a most-beloved ‘Man of Letters’; it is unfortunate that references to this festive time of year are difficult to locate within the volumes of his copious scribblings.
And I can’t help but wish that if only he had shared his thoughts, salutations or whatever in the same spirit in which he extrapolated his opinion on the virtues of the fairer sex then my creative endeavours at Number 13 would have been so much easier.
And although the children may be ‘nestled all snug in their beds’ – there is plenty ‘stirring’ within the basement kitchen of 13 Piccadilly Terrace.
Beginning with a breakfast of Plover’s Eggs, freshly made bread and red currant jelly to prepare for the Christmas Day Morrow.
However, I am a little gratified that as Lord B was never known to ‘mince his words’ about anything or anybody that his opinion on the value of the humble ‘Minced Pye’ has at least been left for posterity:
“Seven years have elapsed since I saw a minced pie – and time and distance had not diminished my regret for those absent friends to “a merry Christmas and a happy new year
I have made a sumptuous meal on your minced pies – which are worthy of the donor and of his table. I congratulate you on your Cook…”
In January 1823 as the poet was living in the ‘Arctic’ region of Genoa and recovering from the torment of ‘chilblains’ – he was also tucking into a minced pie or two which had been left for him as a gift from a Mr. Ingram, a sometime acquaintance and fellow member of the Ravenna ‘dilettanti’.
Now for those of you who know me even moderately well; you will recall that I am rather partial to a mince pie at this time of year and if I were to ever venture into a life-size kitchen and rummage among the pots and pans in order to whittle up my own batch of these delightful pastry treats – I certainly wouldn’t be holding my breath in anticipation of any congratulatory message!
It is fortuitous as I reside near a local emporium that makes the most delightful cornucopia of mince pies that my attention has been more appropriately served (no pun intended!) within the dark confines of the basement kitchen of Number 13 supervising the creation of a minced pie worthy of his Lordship’s table.
However, before I return to the ‘roleing’ of this ‘Puff Past’ to create a minced pie worthy of his Lordship’s table with my copy of Margaretta Acworth’s ‘book of receipts’ to hand – I shall enjoy a sumptuous Christmas Eve snack of a slice or three of of roast beef served with some fresh bread and delicious butter.
And if after your Christmas lunch you still have room for a ‘Mince Pye’ just like the indomitable Mrs Acworth used to whittle up over two hundred and fifty years ago and to which her ‘Dear Mamma Always Made & Was Generally Admired’ – I shall be sharing her unique recipe in the Piccadilly Recipe Book.
Until then however, I shall wish you much merriment and delicious minced pie!
Byron’s Letters and Journals Volume 10 (1822-1823) Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1980)
Margaretta Acworth’s Georgian Cookery Book Ed: Alice and Frank Prochaska (London: Pavilion Books Limited 1987)