Seasonal eating: History behind traditional gifts

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With the autumnal celebration of Halloween and Bonfire Night over, many of us are starting to prepare for Christmas and all the festivities that the season brings. From choosing gifts for family and friends, to deciding what to cook for dinner on the special day, there’s always so much to organise as we want it to be a special time for everyone we care for.

It’s a similar story for the team at Mr Pickles’ Yorkshire Food Emporium on Abbeydale Road.

Not only are we busy organising Christmas meat orders for customers, we’re making sure we have lots of tasty treats on the shelves for everyone.

For many of us Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a cheeseboard, a smoked salmon breakfast or a festive beer, not to mention the cranberry sauce or the spiced chutney!

Hampers too are very popular at this time of year. Thought to date back to William the Conqueror, when baskets were used to transport food across land and sea, the concept of the hamper as a gift developed in Victorian times.

Wealthy households would give them to their staff at Christmas, but it was the arrival of the railway, and the ability to send a hamper, that made them the popular gift that they are today.

For us, the best thing about a hamper is that it can be tailored to anyone’s taste, which is why we offer a bespoke hamper service in store.

You just need to choose between a classic neutral or a festive red base, pick the items you would like to go in it and we will wrap it up into the perfect gift.

Although the traditional Victorian hamper was filled with a selection of meats, poultry and pies, we recommend you choose non-perishable items such as preserves, crackers, chutneys, cakes, coffee and tea.

If you want to add a piece of cheese or a pork pie at a later date, leave one side of the hamper open so you can just slip it in.

To find out more about our hamper service, pop into our store on Abbeydale Road and ask a member of the team.

Why not join us for our Christmas Meet the Producer event held on Saturday, November 18? Producers are sampling their food and drink from 11am to 5pm - the perfect time for Christmas hamper research and an early festive occasion to enjoy with friends or family.

n See next week’s Telegraph for a new baking column.