Monday, November 23, 2009

Fruitcake: Hellish Loaf of Penance or Delightful Dessert?

Much is made this time of year about fruitcake. While my friend Beth writes about her recipe in all its moist delicious glory, most people think of the leaden desiccated bricks that are the usual holiday fare. Well people, you're usually being served turkey that could be used to sand the paint off steel and mashed potatoes that would be better used as mastic. Open your mind to good fruitcake.

I don't have the recipe, but my mother made a good fruitcake. Back in the dim days of the Seventies, this didn't entail a trip to Whole Foods (yes there's one in my hometown now); this was ordering the dried fruits from California, the nuts from the South and some of the ingredients from, I don't know, Albany, Albania or perhaps Alpha Centauri- whatever place Angelica might naturally occur. After the fruits were soaked in Cognac for about a week or so they were added to the roasted nuts and cake batter and were baked (and how it didn't burn down the place I don't know), then the actual cakes were ritually soaked with more booze to the point that if one didn't wish to consume it one could light it afire and bask in its warmth for quite a few days. I do remember that after some initial resistance of the part of family friends to receiving the dreaded Holiday Loaf (ending perhaps upon sniffing 400 proof) that mothers fruitcake became looked upon as something between a Christmas tradition and an active, unending scrip for Ativan. Serenity in a slice. So much so that after my father died and she decided that perhaps packages from California of dried fruit were too much of a luxury for us in our sadly reduced circumstances needy WASPs showered us with enough packages not only to make the Secret Fruitcake for several seasons, but to keep us all regular well into the Eighties...

Image by the inimitable Edward Gorey from


Flora said...

Funny! I need some of your mom's fruitcake right now! :-D

tmp00 said...

You know what I could too.

And I didn't even write about the eggnog. It brought grown men to their knees..