And Visions of Sugarplums Danced in Their Heads

Okay, class… hands up if you actually know what a sugar plum is.

The Oxford Canadian Dictonary description is “a small round candy of flavoured, boiled sugar”, which is the oddest description I’ve ever seen. Larousse Gastronomique, that bastion of all things edible, disappointingly, contains no entry at all.

If you do a Google search on “sugar plum” you get sugar plum fairies, sugar plum balls (as in, the dance), a website for a gift basket company, and even a brand of tea. None of those have anything to do with actual sugar plums, however.

I first ate a sugar plum in Simcoe, Ontario in about 1990. Some neighbour of my ex’s grandparents discovered an old Victorian recipe and made boxes of the things to give as gifts. We had a box of a dozen to share between six or seven of us. I think I managed to score three of the things, based on a relative or two disliking dried fruit. Brilliant things these. Dried fruit and nuts, essentially the ingredients in a fruitcake, minus the annoyance of the actual cake, all soaked in booze and rolled together, coated with a sprinkling of sugar to balance the flavours. The sugar plum is so named for the inclusion of the sugar coating and prunes (dried plums) along with a variety of other ingredients.

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