Holiday Fruit Cake
Let’s talk about fruitcakes. “Why would we want to do that?” I hear you query. Well, because it’s that time of year and it came up at dinner with friends the other night. I have been thinking about them ever since.
“I made fruitcakes today,” my friend C. said recently when we sat down to dinner after a movie.
“Why would you do that?” I then looked down at the menu.
“I like making fruitcakes.”
“Well, no one likes eating them,” I said impatiently. “So, what’s the point?”
“V. likes fruitcakes.”
V. is her husband and was with us in the restaurant. He rarely listens to us when we are talking so you have to start the conversation as if the prior sentence was never spoken when needing his participation.
“V.,” I said pointedly. “Do you like fruitcake?”
He looked up from the menu, paused and said, “No.”
I looked at C. across the table, raised my eyebrow to make my point and looked down at the menu at the macaroni and cheese with truffles that was beckoning to me. Fruitcake be damned.
“V., you do so like fruitcake!” C. was indignant.
“I learned to like it because you make it, but I didn’t start out liking it.” V. was actually an ambassador to somewhere or other during the Carter years. I think that was where he learned to reply to those kinds of traps with such finesse. Not bad.
At that point, our conversation went in a different direction, but I’ve been thinking about fruitcake ever since.
Johnny Carson said, “The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.” I miss Johnny Carson. And, I think he was a very smart man.
Fruitcake is also the heaviest food per square inch to be sure. While I am making this up, I’m quite certain it could possibly be true. Tell me something we eat that is heavier? It may even be in the Guinness World Book or something. It should be. It also has the longest shelf life ever, surpassing even Twinkies which we know are not real food.
The role of the fruitcake in American history is dubious and cloudy. One theory presented by a historian who couldn’t quite locate his credentials dates back to the days of the American Revolutionary War. Commander in Chief George Washington asked Benjamin Franklin to come up with an easy barricade material to guard against incoming British cannon fire. Benjamin Franklin thought about it, went to bed early and rose early, healthy, wealthy and wise enough to tell the waiting general about his mother-in-law’s fruit-loaf. Her attempt at some kind of bread had been so hard that his uncle had broken a tooth while biting into it at the previous year’s holiday dinner. It is not known if the general followed Franklin’s advice. It’s more likely that he never asked him again. I like this story. A lot.
Here is the bottom line. Please don’t bring me a fruitcake, talk to me about the fabulous fruitcakes you make, or suggest for any length of time that anyone you know likes fruitcake. Thank you and Merry Christmas.