Lisa's week

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Lisa's week: It’s an acquired taste!

Mince Pie

Do you know that expression? “An acquired taste”? It’s one of those typical euphemistic British phrases that can be used when you want to express that the thing in question is not exactly everyone’s cup of tea. You might be the one who loves it more than anything and you are making the other person feel better for hating it, or you might be the one who detests something and want to be a bit polite in saying what you think about it, or you might even use it an a form of encouragement for someone to try something again if they didn’t like it the first time! It almost translates as “you really have to try it often to get to like it!” – “gewöhnungsbedürftig sein” or “etwas für Kenner sein” according to Leo.

Anyway, onto the subject of British Christmas baking and the thing that is definitely an acquired taste is the ubiquitous Mince Pie!

Now what is totally confusing here is the use of the word “mince” because minced-meat (notice that “d”) is any meat which has been cut up into tiny pieces (Hackfleisch) but mincemeat is a sweet mix of winter dried fruit and spices that is typically used in small, sweet pies at this time of year. This food was brought back to England from the Middle East by the Crusaders and would have also included meat and animal fat, which is maybe why this confusing word is used. However, it’s definitely a meat-free sweet treat today and the suet (Talg) that was used in the past is rarely found these days due to the resulting consistency, flavour and health concerns.

So, if you go to any supermarket, food shop or bakery in the UK you will find dozens and dozens of different mince pies and even though I don’t even like them – I’m not a fan of dried fruit – I really miss them around Christmastime! Is that crazy? In the past, I often made them myself and would make sure that at least half the batch had less filling than the others so that I could get a hint of the flavours and the yummy pastry without all the currants, raisins and mixed peel. Yes ok, even as I write that I can hear that it’s a little crazy!

BBC Good Food provides a good description of mincemeat here and a highly rated recipe for Mince Pies here if you’re feeling adventurous!

As you can see from this BBC link (, when we think about baking at Christmas there are a lot of international influences from all around the world. Mince pies and a traditional fruit Christmas cake or pudding might be what come to mind when we think of “British” baking, but clearly we have learnt to embrace food from across the globe which makes this time of year full of flavour and fun! What will you be picking out to bake this weekend just in time for the big day?

So with that, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all the very best for a Happy New Year. See you in 2018!


What is Lisa's week?

"We’ve (hopefully) been entertaining you so far with the meaning and background of a weekly English idiom and now we’ve decided to expand that a little to give me the chance to share some details that come my way in my daily life as a Business English teacher. I hope to find weekly tidbits of information and experience to tell you about such as British traditions that I (or we) celebrate, or typical mistakes made when speaking English, or even some of the funny things I come across in my daily life. We hope that you’ll enjoy the insight into the life of a Brit in Germany!"


Episode 1: The Queen's 90th birthday

Episode 2: What did you do last Sunday?

Episode 3: What's the best way to answer?

Episode 4: The sound of London

Episode 5: Not just a last resort

Episode 6: Quick tip of the week: advice vs. advise

Episode 7: Title talk

Episode 8: The Union Jack

Episode 9: Why Thursday?

Episode 10: Quick tip of the week - Are you watching or just looking?

Episode 11: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Episode 12: Don't forget to take you handy to the public viewing!

Episode 13: Up in the Highlands

Episode 14: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends

Episode 15: Pie in the sky 

Episode 16: Through the tunnel

Episode 17: Keep left!

Episode 18: Quick tip of the week - Rise vs. raise vs. arise

Episode 19: How do you say that?

Episode 20: Back to School!

Episode 21: Sweet cravings

Episode 22: Can you change a fiver?

Episode 23: Grabbing some "me time"

Episode 24: Typical Mistakes (part 1)

Episode 25: Fancy a cuppa?

Episode 26: Quip tip of the week - Fell vs. fall etc.

Episode 27: Things that go bump in the night!

Episode 28: Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpower, treason and plot

Episode 29: What's that badge you're wearing?

Episode 30: Bless you!

Episode 31: What are you thankful for?

Episode 32: Where's the larget Christmas Market outside Germany or Austria?

Episode 33: What's behind the door?

Episode 34: The joy of a Christmas cracker!

Episode 35: Does it all fit on the table?

Episode 36: Seeing in the New Year

Episode 37: How are your resolutions going?

Episode 38: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends - part 2

Episode 39: What will the Year of the Rooster mean for you?

Episode 40: Sweet Valentine

Episode 41: A Reminder

Episode 42: I'll have mine with sugar and lemon juice, please!

Episode 43: The joy of golden daffodils

Episode 44: The whole world's going green!

Episode 45: Idiom of the week - Raining cats and dogs

Episode 46: The joke's on you!

Episode 47: Left over from the Middle Ages!

Episode 48: More calendar food-based ponderings

Episode 49: We use German words too

Episode 50: Celebrating St George

Episode 51: The perfect start to the day

Episode 52: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 1)

Episode 53: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 2)

Episode 54: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 3)

Episode 55: Holiday season is coming!

Episode 56; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 1

Episode 56; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 2

Episode 57: Summer Solstice

Episode 58: Harry Potter turns 20

Episode 59: Quick Tip of the Week - live, life, live

Episode 60: Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

Episode 61:  I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

Episode 62: Stick a stamp on it!

Episode 63: Idiom of the week - Water under the bridge

Episode 64: I say QWERTY, you say QWERTZ

Episode 65: Doing your homework and making mistakes! (Part 1)

Episode 66: Doing your homework and making mistakes! (Part 2)

Episode 67: Joking around in Scotland

Episode 68: The first day of school

Episode 69: Let's go down to the Wiesn!

Episode 70: Celebrating language

Episode 71: It's a Harry thing!

Episode 72: My favourite time of the year

Episode 73: TED-Ideas Worth Spreading

Episode 74: Grinning like a Cheshire cat

Episode 75: Enjoying the downtime

Episode 76: Talking Tenners

Episode 77: Do you need anything from the Hight Street?

Episode 78: Just another few minutes!

Episode 79: Counting the cards on my shelf.

Episode 80: What sign are you?

Episode 81: Great if you have a sweet tooth