Wednesday, December 1, 2010

First Day of December

Greetings, gourdlings.  Today is the first day of December.  It is also the first night of Hanukkah, so shalom to all my Jewish friends.
It is not yet winter, as that won't happen for weeks, but December marks the beginning of the pre-Christmas attack.
Oh, technically Jul (Yule) has not begun either.

So today, to get us all in the Xmas mood, I'd like to talk about the humble, much maligned fruitcake.
Naughty cake, so naughty, half-naked like that...

Yep, that's it, right there.
Public Christmas Enemy #1.

I like fruitcake.  My wife hates fruitcake.  It is popular to hate fruitcake and yet it is also popular to give and receive the fruitcake.  So what gives?
My mother liked fruitcake and I like fruitcake.  It's been around in one form or another for centuries.  So why, if it is so hated, does it endure?  Were all the fruitcakes in the world made at the same time and the hygroscopic nature of the confection has made them unspoilable such that the same fruitcakes are seen on the shelf every year only to be returned, like so many copies of Dianetics to Scientology HQ, to their point of storage to be put back on the shelves again come November in the good old US of A?  Had the New Orleans levees been made of such cake would Katrina have found herself bitch slapped back into the Gulf of Mexico to sulk?

We can see in the choice of materials for the fruitcake that it is a winter food.  Dried or candied fruit, nuts, alcohol, dense cake.  This is a confection made not with the fresh fruits of the summer and early fall, but the preserved goods that are meant to carry one through the dark part of the year.  It is a filling, hearty cake as well, and the alcohol acts as both preservative and punch.  It is akin to the plum duff, Christmas pudding, and the German stollen.  This cake means business.

Many have probably never tried fruitcake.  It looks unappealing when you see it in a store cut into rectangular solids, bits of candied fruit sliced open like a produce autopsy.  The entire thing looks like it will go into your colon and have a sit in to fight for the rights of cakes everywhere.  Try it.  You might like it.  Fruitcakes, even the grocery store brick-o-cake, have a rich flavor that is sweet, nutty, and a little odd, but pleasant.

In these enlightened times perhaps we feel we don't need the humble fruitcake anymore.  We have greenhouses and genetically altered fruit.  We have refrigeration to store our perishables.  We don't want for things like apples, which we can have year round or oranges.  We don't know the simple joy of getting a fruity treat out of season because our jaded asses are accustomed to it.  Take away our ability to get fruit all year round and we'd make a Federal case of it, for truly it is in the Constitution that we have a Separation-of-Church-and-State-god given right to fresh fruit year round.  So it is no wonder we don't respect the fruitcake.

If you got a fruitcake for a gift you'd think, "Well it's the thought that counts, right?".  Then you'd think that the thought was obviously not a nice one and you might say, "Screw that.  I'm glad I didn't get them a present.  Yeah, bite my crank grandma!"
Which is appalling and you should be ashamed of yourself.
And now for a guest celebrity opinion:  What do you think, Krampus?
I find that the modern human has lost touch with the traditional socio-economic realities of his species over the long-term lifespan, given the overall age of the planet, the changes of human cultures and general drive toward a more materialistic world view, which ironically drives mankind to seek spiritual fulfillment through mock re-creation of lost cultural mores for which there is no proper evidence or grounding.  Um, I mean, "Rahr!" 
Opinions of mythical fertility deities turned devalued holiday icons do not necessarily reflect the opinions and/or beliefs of the management.  That they do, is not necessary but is damned convenient.

So until next time, keep your menorah lit.


  1. I like fruit cake. Maybe it comes from growing up poor and eating cast off produce that was destined for the bin, but really too good to throw out. My dad worked produce at the local WD when I was a wee lass. We used to peel, cook down and preserve bruised apples and the Nonna could make a mean cobbler out of abused peached. I suppose I can relate to our ancestors who didn't have the fresh, shiny fruit in the winter months. Plus, Nonna made a killer icebox fruit cake from those poor, neglected, no-longer attractive bits of fruit. I dunno. All I can say is, I won't turn my nose up at a Claxton's in my stocking.

  2. Me either.
    Also I got several boxes of slightly out of date Pop Tarts from the Dave once and they were as good as the fresh ones. I had never had cherry or grape until then, so a good experience.

  3. I think Pop Tarts are the modern fruit cake. Not as fresh and tasty as the real thing, but they'll keep forever.

  4. Fruitcake, to me, is like banana bread. Both Grandmas were fruitcake makers in my youth. Both did a good job of making fruitcake, but not all fruitcake is created equal, it all depends on the bread. A nice, moist, dense fruitcake is wonderful, a brittel, dry, airid one is not so much.