Pass the Pudding, Please!

Part of my misspent youth was spent in England.

At the age of 18 I joined the crew of a Norwegian tanker in my hometown of Duluth, Minn., and worked my passage over to Liverpool, England (thank you, Ed Ruisi). The idea was to soak up the culture and become a man of the world.

I ended up in a part of England where tourists never trod. The only Yanks the locals saw were on TV. So I was an oddity.

Much hilarity ensued over my naïve American take on English. For example, to me the word “pudding” means a powdery substance poured out of a box to make an insipid, glutinous dessert.

To the English it means the course to end the meal – our dessert. My first “pudding” was at a typical Sunday sit-down dinner with a typical English family. Meat. Potatoes. Veg (cabbage/cauliflower and/or Brussels sprouts). Followed by pudding.

When asked at what I thought was the end of my first English Sunday dinner if I wanted pudding, my first thought was to say, no, that’s OK. I’m full of roast beef and starchy tubers, while I was thinking, they have that icky gloop here too? But instead I said, “I would love some pudding.”

Hey, I was trying to soak in the culture.

And to my surprise my hostess, Hilary, set before me, her husband Brian, and their six-year-old daughter, Heather, what looked to me like individual Bundt cakes covered in a yellow custardy sauce. I enjoyed it immensely.

Now, these many years later, I have a Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale before me from the Wells Brewery of Bedford, England.

At one point during my time in England I lived in a town called Bedford, in an apartment above a crazy Italian who had a deli below my living space and who liked to set up a high-rise ladder so he could look in my windows. But that’s a different story.

Directly across the street was a pub I frequented that was tied to the local brewery, Wells, and just a short walk along the River Ouse was the Wells Brewery itself. I was 20 and in love with the fresh, local real ale movement that was taking place in England at the time, and you really couldn’t get any fresher than having a brewery just down the road from you.

Yum! I see where they are coming from. Dessert beer.

It’s not particularly sticky. I’ve had much stickier beers. But it’s a great name.

The toffee part, yes. Sweet toffee in the form of malt.

The pudding? Well, now you know that story.