“Fygeye – Take Fygys, an sethe hem tylle þey ben neysshe, þan bray hem tylle þey ben smal; þenne take hem vppe an putte hem in a potte, & Ale þer-to; þan take Bred y-gratyd, an Pyne? hole, & caste þer-to, & let boyle wyl; & atte þe dressoure, caste on pouder Canel y-now, & serue forth: & ?if þow wolt colour yt in .iij. maners, þou myt, with Saunderys, Safroun, & of hym-self, and ley on pouder y-now, & serue forth.”
The Austin Manuscripts, c. 1440
This recipe via The Foods of England Project, is for a very early version of ‘figgy pudding’, quite distinct from the figgy-pudding of the Christmas carol, which is probably much closer to the plum pudding that eventually morphed into the Christmas pudding that we know today.
Let’s have a go at a translation of the medieval, shall we?
Take figs and boil (or simmer?) they until they are soft, then mash them up, then put them in a pot and add ale. Then add grated bread and whole “Pyne” (not sure – could be pine nuts?) and boil a while. At the dresser, add enough powdered cinnamon and serve it forth. If you want to colour it you can, with Saunderys (sandalwood, which gives a red colour), saffron (yellow) and “of hym-self” (not sure again – colour with more figs?) and add enough powder and serve forth.
So, that’s a dish of boiled figs ale and breadcrumbs, with added Pyne, cinnamon, and sandalwood or saffron for colour. They seemed to liked their puddings mushy, back in the fifteenth century.