Author: Ariane DeVere
Word count: 221 (plus another 221 in the Author’s Note)
Summary: Sherlock has been cooking for Christmas. What could possibly go wrong?
A last-minute Christmas story, together with everything you never wanted to know about traditional Christmas food in England.
“What in the name of ...?” John stared at the disaster area that had previously been 221B’s kitchen.
“Don’t start,” Sherlock said, glowering at him. “You were the one who said I should make more effort to participate in the ‘fun’ of Christmas. I got so sick of you and Mrs Hudson nagging me that I have heroically done some cooking for your ridiculous party tomorrow night.”
“Did you cook an entire Christmas dinner with all the trimmings?” John asked, gazing in despair at all the dirty saucepans, baking trays and cutlery. It would take him days to clean up the mess.
“Mince pies!” Sherlock announced triumphantly, offering a plate to John. “I baked them myself. Try one.”
Nervously John took one of the pies and bit into it. He chewed thoughtfully for a couple of seconds.
“Good?” Sherlock asked.
John didn’t know how to break it to him.
“Um, Sherlock,” he ventured. “Did you not know that mince pies are made of mincemeat and not mince? They’re two very different things, I’m afraid. Mincemeat doesn’t actually have meat in it.”
Sherlock’s face fell. “I’ve been cooking all day,” he said morosely.
“Don’t worry,” said John, taking another bite. “It could have been so much worse. I dread to think how you’d have made pigs in blankets.”
Christmas food in England is weird, I’ve decided. We eat stuff we wouldn’t dream of touching during the rest of the year, and some of it has very peculiar names or origins. We rarely eat turkey except maybe at Easter, a lot of us can’t stand brussels sprouts but will (very begrudgingly) have them because Christmas dinner just wouldn’t be the same without them, and we wouldn’t even consider having Christmas pudding or mince pies any other time of year!
Mincemeat, used to make mince pies and pretty much nothing else these days, doesn’t contain minced meat. Apparently it used to have meat in it in olden days but now it’s made of dried fruit and spices. It’s cooked into pastry shells to make small pies which are a traditional part of the dessert we have after dinner, along with Christmas pudding and brandy butter (and/or cream or custard).
As for pigs in blankets, they are small sausages or chipolatas wrapped in bacon. I believe that in some parts of the country they’re wrapped in pastry, but the bacon version is what I’ve always known in the south of England. They can either be eaten alone as a starter, or are included with the dinner.
So that’s my Sherlockian Christmas story, and the obligatory 221B Author’s Note.
P.S. I love brussels!