Bing Crosby was practically a family member around Christmas in the home where I was raised. Crosby, with help from his own family and the Andrews Sisters, could be heard spitting his classic Christmas rhymes on the record player and throughout the house via the home intercom system.
I didn't just listen to these songs, I learned them. Every word.
When it came to “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” the song offered the promise of two things I held close to my 6-year-old heart: figs and pudding.
To this day, I cannot and will not keep Fig Newtons in my house because of their power over me. Pudding, on the other hand, I haven't eaten in years, but when I was 6, pudding was the single-most sought-after food in my life. Whether chocolate or butterscotch, I couldn't care less. I wanted it, and I wasn't going to shut up until I got some.
So, when Bing demanded, in song, figgy pudding, I immediately went to the source of all world knowledge as I knew it in 1974: Mom.
All the Good Housekeepings and all the Better Homes and Gardens couldn't help mom satisfy the insatiable 6-year-old at her feet. So, I settled for chocolate and butterscotch ad nauseam. And, like any other 6-year-old, I quickly forgot about figgy pudding when a “Planet of the Apes” fortress full of dolls and make-believe artillery was left in Santa's wake under our Christmas tree — until the next Christmas.
Alas, Mom never could scratch the figgy pudding itch, and somewhere along the way I learned it was nothing more than a variant of fruit cake, which I didn't learn to love, or even like, for many years.
This year, I endeavored to solve the mystery of figgy pudding and did no small amount of recipe research. I settled on two: one from the BBC, because the pudding is British, and this is about as British as it gets, and Dorie Greenspan, because she is the United States' patron saint of baking.
Between the two, I arrived at a recipe that sounded reasonable. The ingredients were not beyond my reach. The degree of difficulty didn't seem too formidable.