Corny but tasty

16 Dec

Weird food: Mince pie flavoured popcorn

I HAVE a Christmas confession.  I hate mince pies. The stodgy pastry and spiced, gloopy mixture sends shivers down my spine. A bit unfortunate really as it is only thanks to the pesky pastries that I reached the heady heights of being a  Guinness World Record Breaker. 

I write ‘heady heights’ with a massive dollop of sarcasm because the record I hold, along with former colleagues Luke Chilton and Michael Xuereb, is for eating the most mince pies in a minute. And we achieved…two.

I can hear you snorting with laughter. You’d think wolfing down two mince pies in a minute would be a piece of, er pie. After all, most people manage to shovel a few down at Christmas, along with endless turkey, chocolate log and trifle.

But the pastry dried out my mouth then combined with the mincemeat to create a sticky glue that stuck my jaw together. The tactic was to take small, delicate bites then gulp them down, but it took me at least 30 mince pies to work this out.

Despite being red-faced from the mince pie sweats and  green about the gills (at least I was sticking to a festive colour scheme!) I managed to secure the record. But it left me scarred and the thought of even the tiniest morsel of mince pie passing my lips made me shudder.

So it was with trepidation that I tested Joe and Seph’s Mince Pie flavoured popcorn. 

Popcorn’s been around for hundreds of years. North American Indians used to sprinkle their harvest on hot stones and watch it pop. But this cinema favourite has evolved and Joe and Seph’s, which launched in November last year, spotted a gap in the market for new flavours including blue cheese, walnut and celery, and caramel, mirin, and soya.

Sold at Harrods, Selfridges and on websites such as Firebox, the brand counts Masterchef judge John Torode as a fan. While an average mince pie is 250 calories and will take you a half an hour run to burn off, Joe and Seph’s popcorn is air-popped, rather than cooked in melted butter, so it’s easier on the waistline.

Gently tumbled in spices, the popcorn looked a little like a rocky road, encrusted with flecks of almonds and liquor-plumped raisins. Chewier than other popcorn, I got a burst of spices, followed by the lingering taste of butter and brandy. It was absolutely delicious. All the fun of a mince pie, but without the stodge.

Tasty and easy to eat, it went down better than a surprise Cliff Richard gig at an old people’s home. And as handfuls of popcorn slid down my throat, I had a light-bulb moment. Maybe it was time to attempt a new world record…

Joe & Seph’s mince pie flavoured popcorn, £9.99 for 180g tin at http://www.firebox.com

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