Is a cookery programme from the distant days of 1975, where it was first shown on British television, namely, the BBC. In it, legendary acid-tongued waspish TV chef Fanny Cradock generates inedible Christmas food which attempt to look posh but actually looks (and probably tastes) deeply unpleasant. In odd ways.

The first of this series of five 15-minute efforts is, of course, Your Christmas Bird. This can, of course, be a turkey, primarily, but could also be a goose or a duck or a chicken if one lives alone. Firstly, Fanny notes that turkey tends to be a bit on the dessicated side, and so sets to educate us all on, in her words, "lubricating a dry bird." Oo-er. This is achieved by loosening the skin then sticking thin slices of gammon up in between the skin and the meat, and then large whole mushrooms until the bird looks humpbacked. Once her long-suffering assistant Sarah (who is never allowed to speak and forced to wear horribad 1970s clobber) has put that in the oven and an unspecified time later, Fanny explains that the best way to carve a recalcitrant turkey is with a pair of secateurs. She also stuffs the turkey in a hilariously suggestive manner using an icing bag to contain the stuffing. It looks extremely rude.

Number two involves Christmas pudding. This is fairly inoffensive and has a rather useful wrinkle involving a sieve to make it round rather than tub-shaped like a lot of store-bought Christmas puddings are. If you do this then your Christmas puddings should look just like Fanny's although hers seem to have fallen somewhat. What is offensive, though, is the trifle. It has a Swiss roll base, then in goes sugar, honey, icing sugar, more custard, chocolate, and squeezy icing from a bag, together with glacé cherries. Other than the glacé cherries, there is no fruit or anything not made of sugar. Oh yes. Then the Christmas pudding comes out, upon where she advises the use of brandy butter. Hers is green.

Number three is where it really starts to get whacked out with Royal Mincemeat. Not mincemeat that you might make lasagne with, but the mincemeat that goes in mince pies. My mother informs me that back in the 1970s, this stuff had lumps of suet floating around in it also. Anyhow. After much time decrying those silly little mince pies (which men hate, allegedly) which have a "great doorstop" of pastry then a half mouthful of filling, Fanny makes a big mince pie that you can take a slice out of. Which also has a very heavy-looking lid. But wait, there's more! Fanny now proceeds to put her Royal Mincemeat in everything imaginable. Crepes? Add mincemeat! Swiss roll? Add mincement but don't cook it! And then, the piéce de résistance - mincemeat omelette.

Let's have that again.


As in, an omelette with the filling from mince pies stirred into it.

I'm sorry, but I cannot, for the life of me, envisage any alternate bizarro universe in which this is an auspicious activity. There are some culinary things that are just wrong and do not go together. This is one of them.

Number four, Your Christmas Cake isn't too bad although nobody I know mixes a cake by putting both hands in the bowl and kneading it and imagine that you're smooshing up the face of someone that you've never really liked (her words not mine.) Also, we're told that the best way of doing buttercream is to ensure it's "loose and floppy." Fnar fnar. But anyhow, apparently this affair, which is lighter coloured than the dark Christmas cake that the viewers have allegedly pushed Mrs Cradock into doing year on year and which comes in for scorn, is nicer. It doesn't look that bad actually. Until she smothers it with marzipan and almond paste and fondant icing (pronounced "fondon") until your arteries start to scream in agony. While all this is going on we get an anecdote from Fanny about how one punter user rose water face solution in a cake recipe that she made on stage to 2,000 people. And then we see that the one she prepared earlier has what appears to be a vase of flowers stuck out the icing.

The final effort is Petits Fours. In this one, she makes choux paste and bakes petits fours out of it. Overbakes, I should say. They all look burnt. She then proceedings to smother them in colossal amounts of radioactively-coloured icing. There's also tales of how she doesn't want her split bun to have any goo in it when you spread it open. Hur hur.

Thing is, Cradock may have been an excellent cook, but most of the stuff here is rather weird and inedible looking. I for one wouldn't eat many of these things because they range from overly decorated and massively caloriffic (the cake) all the way through to the just plain inedible looking. Also, brandy butter should not be green. However, given that she refers extensively to "the booklet" which no doubt the BBC sold to tie in with this, people must have given it a go. I'm not sure I will though. However, if you feel the need to, then I'm sure you can find the booklet on eBay or somewhere similar, and if you follow her instructions, all your fairy cakes will look just like Fanny's.

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