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December 25, 2011: Drops of Water on Stone; Fruitcake Vindicated

December 25, 2011

Yeah, I know there’s a lot of you that profess to have fruitcake-hate. It’s almost a Christmas cliché to hate fruitcake. I have a couple of theories about this, but it is almost impossible to resolve most of these because when I start to talk to people about fruitcake, I usually get shut right down with a “Nope…fruitcake is not for me. Don’t like it. Never have. Never will.”

And before I go on…yes, I know there are more important things to address this Christmas. I’ll do “World Peace” or some other worthy issue some other Christmas, but today…please indulge me.

I have never lied to you, dear readers, and never will. I am officially coming out as a fruitcake lover!!! OK, my own peculiar infatuation aside, would someone please tell me: what the hell is there not to like about fruitcake!!!? C’mon folks, really? You’ve got dried fruit. What’s wrong with that? You’ve got nuts. Everyone likes nuts. And you’ve got cake. Who hates cake? Plus, you can soak fruitcake in brandy or a nice bourbon and it just improves the whole mélange of tastes.

Admittedly, fruitcake is, for me, a comfort food. Every year, some business associate would send a fruitcake to my father, just before Christmas. When it arrived, each year, I would start salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs. We had a family injunction against opening the fruitcake, but scamp that I was, I often opened it up anyway and blamed it on one of my siblings. I just couldn’t get my fix fast enough. Also, that fruitcake was the harbinger of the whole Christmas season, so I associated fruitcake with that ramping up of excitement for the main event of  the year in our house: Christmas.

OK, but that’s me. What about the rest of you? Well, one of my theories is that there must be some really awful fruitcakes out there somewhere. One thing that certainly doesn’t help is the addition of citron in most fruitcakes. I’m not sure who had the bright idea of adding dried citron to fruitcakes, but I personally blame this person for the downfall for what could be the perfect treat, fruitcake could be. Citron is the fruit of an Asian citrus tree. The fruit is similar to a lemon, but all I can tell you is that dried citron is bitter! Fruitcake makers have gotten wise to this and have reduced the amount of citron they put in. As a child, I used to pick out the citron in each piece for a more perfect fruitcake.

The other theory I have is that people are caving into popular opinion and just say they hate fruitcake…and I have the evidence to support this:  For the last five years I have gone to bat for my beloved fruitcake. Each year, I have walked up to the bakery section of my local grocery store and firmly, but politely asked why they don’t stock fruitcake. The standard reply was “No one likes it” to which I would reply “Well, I do, and I don’t believe I’m alone on this, so please order some next year.” It took five years, but I can be very stubborn and I was on a quest. Like drops of water wearing down stone, my resolve finally got results. Lo and behold, this year, I was pleased and surprised to see it stocked! In a return visit to purchase more, I ended talking to the person that ordered fruitcake to thank her. I noticed there was only four left on Christmas Eve and I asked her how many she had ordered. “Forty-eight” was the answer. I bought two. So, in my close perimeter, that makes forty-two other fruitcake lovers!!!

I have one young friend who has told me that she would never ever taste fruitcake again and that she loves all kinds of food! It made me sad that there are people of the next generation who may not have a fruitcake appreciation. I asked her when she first tried it and it turned out that she had it when she was very young, so maybe fruitcake may not be a good treat for the very young.

If you have ever had a bad fruitcake experience, do me  a favor: try to give it another shot. You just might be surprised. And, if you are one of those who say you don’t like fruitcake, just sneak it on the sly. I won’t tell. Promise. It’ll be our little secret.

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