WHEN my news editor told me I’d be sampling the Capital’s latest culinary delicacy, the possibilities seemed endless.
I pictured leaving a stressful newsroom behind and setting off to scoff my face at the German market, or perhaps at the city’s hottest new restaurant, or some gastropub that had scooped a national award.
He had a mischievous smirk and the sound of muffled sniggers soon brought me back down to earth. Then he broke the news – I was off to Cafe Piccante in Broughton Street to try its deep-fried Christmas pudding. The sniggers turned to hoots of raucous laughter.
I like batter as much as the next person, and have never been adverse to a bit of Christmas pudding, but the thought of combining the two was initially stomach-churning.
But I cast my personal feelings aside and made contact with Cafe Piccante owner Selim Sener, the creator of what he claims is a Scottish first.
He explained: “We already do all of the chocolate bars deep fried and just wanted to do something different over Christmas. A friend suggested a deep-fried Christmas pudding. I said ‘why not?’ I’ll try anything once. It’s very good and goes well with ice cream.”
For an alternative opinion, I phoned city nutritionist Emma Conroy, expecting her to be horrified at this monstrosity.
She estimated a 100g serving complete with ice cream would top 700 calories, but was far from scathing, especially when compared with its notorious relation, the deep-fried Mars bar.
She said: “Which would I prefer? No question, the pudding wins hands down. A Mars bar is a nutritional disaster before it hits the deep fat fryer.”
After receiving a warm welcome from Selim, he pointed me in the direction of two punters who he said had just ordered one of his puddings – and their plates were empty.
“We just thought we had to try it,” said NHS productivity specialist Neil Taylor, 46. “It’s crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside – it totally works.”
Then, it was my turn. Despite two generous servings of vanilla ice cream and a squirting of chocolate sauce, it didn’t look the most appetising dish. But I got stuck in anyway.
I had nothing to worry about and my tray was soon empty.
Selim may not be in the running for a Michelin star, but he certainly knows his deep fat fryer, and I have no doubt he has another unlikely winner.
Scots first? Fat chance
THINK deep-fried food was a Scots invention? Think again.
The Japanese were producing tempura – battered seafood or vegetables – as early as the 1500s.
The French and the Belgians began munching chips before us – with the French Fry popular in the 1830s.
In 1890, Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken was born. In 1945, Ed Waldmire Jr created the “Crusty Cur” – the first corn dog.
Scots didn’t arrive on the international deep-fried scene until 1995, when the battered Mars bar made headlines.
It isn’t only solids that have taken the plunge. In 2006, a serving of fried Coca Cola was “most creative” entry at the State Fair of Texas.
WHILE the dessert is high in calories, dried fruits used to make Christmas pudding are a natural, traditional food and contain lots of healthy, soluble fibre to keep our gut flora happy.
While up to 80 per cent of Vitamin C is lost when a fruit is dried, many of the other nutrients remain intact. These include potassium (useful to balance sodium from salt), calcium and magnesium for bone health, and iron for energy.
Just like fresh fruit, dried fruit is also high in antioxidant pigments like anthocyanins, which are believed help protect our bodies from cellular damage.
The traditional spices used in Xmas pudding are healthy too – cinnamon for example has potent antioxidant properties.