“Empire Christmas Pudding”

by zunguzungu

One of the truly undigested facts about Britain’s colonial empire in Africa was just how un-profitable it pretty much always was, and just how much distaste most British administrations had for their African possessions for that reason. The great scramble came about largely because Germany suddenly wanted colonies and, since Africa was between Britain and India, European competition made Britain fearful of being cut off from the only colony that mattered all that much to them (famously, Britain used to have a Secretary of State for the Colonies and also a Secretary of State for India, which sort of demonstrates their priorities). And so they joined in the scramble, and only afterwards tried to think of ways to make it all profitable. But only South Africa ever really was, which made it all the easier to cut the empire loose once they had no choice anymore; they always had high hopes, but for all sorts of reasons, those hopes were very rarely achieved under British government.

Anyway, in 1926, the Empire Marketing Board was established to try and get Britons to buy products from the empire, and this recipe, for “The King’s Empire Christmas Pudding,” sort of says it all about Britain’s difficulty in find profitable commerce in Africa. See if you can see what’s missing:

5 lb. currants (Australia)
5 lb. sultanas (Australia)
5 lb. stoned raisins (South Africa)
1 ½ lb. minced apple (Canada)
5 lb. breadcrumbs (United Kingdom)
5 lb. beef suet (New Zealand)
2 lb. cut candied peel (South Africa)
2 ½ lb flour (United Kingdom)
2 ½ lb. Demarara sugar (West Indies)
20 eggs (Irish Free State)
2 oz. ground cinnamon (Ceylon)
1 ½ oz. ground cloves (Zanzibar)
1 ½ oz. ground nutmegs (Straits Settlements)
1 teaspoonful pudding spice (India)
1 gill brandy (Cyprus)
2 gills rum (Jamaica)
2 quarts old beer (England)

I’m also fascinated by the fact that “England” provides beer, the “Irish Free State” provides eggs, but the “United Kingdom” provides flour and breadcrumbs (does that mean Scotland?).