The proof of a pudding may be in the eating but it is certainly not in the defining. There must be few things in the world of food so difficult to categorize.
The earliest puddings were encased in the tripe of one animal or another. The most famous of these is the haggis, which Scots are said to dote on, a substantial dish made with the heart, liver and lights of a sheep or calf.
As civilization progressed, puddings of various kinds came to be enjoyed, both savory (as a main dish) and sweet (as a dessert), and following the early method of preparation, most of them were steamed or boiled in a bag or cloth. In the broadest sense a pudding may be made from almost any edible, including meats, fruits, or vegetables, and seasoned at will. The present multitude of dessert puddings includes plum pudding, rice pudding and, the most commonplace of all, bread pudding. Today a pudding can still be so called even if it is not steamed in a bag. It may be baked in a casserole or cooked on top of the stove, or it may even be a cold dish. Hot puddings are excellent fare for winter menus.