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12.13.2010

THE FRUITCAKE FOLLIES

Talking with a friend today conversation lent itself to fruitcakes - the edible holiday version.  Which led me to my mother.  There are two types of people - those that love the fruitcake and those that well, don't.  You either say in response to being asked if you would care for a piece of Aunt Edna's fruitcake, "No thanks" or, you say with great anticipation for this fruit and nut laden treasurer that weighs in at a whopping 4.5 pounds, "Please, that would be great.  I'd love a piece!"   My mother loves fruitcake!!  I racked my mid-forties brain trying to think back to a time pre-fruitcake in the Cherry family.  It has a been holiday staple since I can remember such things as my first Mitch Miller Christmas album or that mom and dad could always be talked into letting us open a gift on Christmas Eve.  That's a lot of work up to this:  No one, and I mean no one, other than my mom and, occasionally my dad, ever eat the fruitcake.   But, every year since my conception (and before since I am the youngest and was born in August), my mom has been making a batch of fruitcake every year at Christmas time.  To her credit, if you had to eat fruitcake hers would rank up there in being way better than most.  She chocks it full of multi-colored candied fruits brimming full of toxic food dyes (though adding a festive yuletide showing to it), raisins and nuts.  For those that cook, she also leaves the citron out, which is typically the thing that adds a bit of a bad aftertaste to fruitcake.  She religiously makes it yearly.  But, instead of  making it into several large fruitcakes, she creates a gaggle of small mini loaves (that's good because if you have to receive a fruitcake at least hers are small).  Fruitcake or a variation of it has been around since the 1700's - ok not literally that one fruitcake!  In the U.S. it originated when it was realized that high concentrations of sugar could preserve fruits.  So when there was an excess of sugary preserved fruits - wha la, the fruitcake was a way to use the excess preserved fruit.  Some feel that fruitcake improves with age (not the age of the person eating it either), and that cloths wrapped around the fruitcake that have been soaked with wine or brandy or rum intensify the flavors.  I personally think anything can be improved with wine, brandy and rum - even myself!  My mom only gives the fruitcake away to those that she knows really like it (she obviously doesn't understand the code of fruitcake giving, but merely wants to keep as many loaves for herself as possible).  Sitting at my parents house in the middle of summer I have seen my mom remove a small loaf of fruitcake from the freezer, slice off a couple of slices and eat it.  Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la . . .
(ily)

2 comments:

  1. Oh my word!!!
    In the freezer in July, was the fruitcake next to the frozen praying mantis???

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  2. Isn't it interesting to find out how certain foods originated? Fruitcake, whoopie pies, Monday's Meatloaf, titty cookies....I do like the idea of wrapping food in wine, brandy or rum soaked cloths' - heck I'd like to wrap me in one a those. Fruitcake tho, man I just think it would take a hellava lot more than that to make any improvement. Just sayin...

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