Pudding, any of several foods whose common characteristic is a relatively soft, spongy, and thick texture.
In the United States, puddings are nearly always sweet desserts of milk or fruit juice variously flavoured and thickened with cornstarch, gelatin, arrowroot, flour, tapioca, rice, bread, or eggs.
In the United Kingdom and some of the Commonwealth countries, the word pudding can be used to describe both sweet and savory dishes.
In Britain, the word “pudding” is often used for any dessert, especially a dessert made with flour and eggs and cooked by steaming, boiling or baking.
The most common kind of pudding is chocolate. Some other kinds are vanilla, butterscotch, banana, and pistachio.
One of the most popular makers of pudding in the United States is Jell-O.
The word “pudding” is believed to come from the French boudin, originally from the Latin botellus, meaning “small sausage”, referring to encased meats used in medieval European puddings.
The British claim pudding as part of their culinary heritage.
Medieval puddings (black and white) were still mostly meat-based.
In the 17th century English puddings were either savory (meat-based) or sweet (flour, nuts & sugar) and were typically boiled in special pudding bags.
The earliest print reference for chocolate pudding is 1730.
Rice pudding was known but until the 19th century it was regarded as a medicine. It was supposed to be good for digestive ailments.
In the 19th century puddings were still boiled but the finished product was more like cake. These puddings are still traditionally served at Christmas time.
Christmas pudding is a type of pudding traditionally served as part of the Christmas dinner in the UK, Ireland and in other countries where it has been brought by British immigrants. It has its origins in medieval England, and is sometimes known as plum pudding or just “pud”, though this can also refer to other kinds of boiled pudding involving dried fruit. Despite the name “plum pudding”, the pudding contains no actual plums due to the pre-Victorian use of the word “plums” as a term for raisins. The pudding is traditionally composed of thirteen ingredients, symbolizing Jesus and the Twelve Apostles, including many dried fruits held together by egg and suet, sometimes moistened by treacle or molasses and flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and other spices. The pudding is usually aged for a month or more, or even a year; the high alcohol content of the pudding prevents it from spoiling during this time.
Savoury puddings are boiled or steamed dishes consisting of meats (steak and kidney being the best known), game, poultry, and vegetables enclosed in suet pastry.
Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and cooked while traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach though now often in an artificial casing instead.
Black and white puddings are sausages with cereal added, the black being colored with pig’s blood.
The Yorkshire pudding is a common English side dish consisting of a baked pudding made from batter consisting of eggs, flour, and milk or water. It is eaten with roast beef is a baked egg-rich batter.
Confusingly, “steak and kidney pudding” is a savoury dish, similar to “steak and kidney pie” but with a softer pastry.
Pudd’nhead Wilson, written by Mark Twain, reflects the term’s use as a metaphor for someone with the mind of a fool.
Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2” ends with the voice of a Scottish-accented schoolmaster shouting, “If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?!” over and over again.