Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

pudding, originally a term derived from the French boudin (itself from the Latin botellus, “sausage”) and reserved for a sausage-like item (as in “blood pudding”), is now most frequently a dessert, although its nature varies widely by region. In North America, “pudding” is a custard-like concoction. In the United Kingdom, it can refer to the sweet course that ends a meal; to any food considered suitable for this course; or, more specifically, to suet pastry or sponge-cake-type mixtures (whether steamed, boiled, or baked), batter mixtures, or baked milk and cereal mixtures. Other cultural variations include the North American “hasty pudding” or cornmeal mush, the Indian rice-and-milk-based sweet kheer, and the blood-and-chocolate pudding called sanguinaccio from Puglia. See sanguinaccio. A related word, pudim, occurs in Portuguese; and budino is an Italian custard-like dessert. The British usage of the term “pudding” is so inclusive as to be almost universal, and every culture that eats bread has some version of bread pudding. However, as Alan Davidson notes in The Oxford Companion to Food, “To focus attention on the British usage [of the term] is legitimate, since pudding may be claimed as a British invention, and is certainly a characteristic dish of British cuisine” (2006, p. 638). See united kingdom.