As we enter the holiday season I think that it is only appropriate that we take a moment and ponder upon one of the foods that we are expected to put into our mouth and there origin.
While having a conversation with a young man in my church the conversation turned to fruitcake. The conversation started because all of the women in our congregation were carrying around plates of cookies in the shapes of letters that spelled out the word SIMPLIFY. The cookies were part of driving, or should I say baking, the message into their heads to simplify their lives’. I was very impressed that some loving and caring woman had taken the time to bake all of these cookies for the 50 or so women in the group. It must have been a huge task baking all of those cookies. That’s over 400 cookies! A task that no man would ever undertake unless he could find something in it that would clearly benefit him. I was less impressed that I would never get the chance to have one of those cookies. No one, and I mean no one was sharing. A little un-Christ-like I think, especially as we move into the Christmas season. Not that I needed any cookies, cookies are about wanting, not needing. If I was super concerned about the nutritional value of cookies I wouldn’t be so upset. I'd like to be bombarded by cookies just once. Chocolate chip and those nice soft cookies with icing on them would be great.
We digress, well I do.
Where was I? Right, cookies. Cookies, or should I say the lack of cookies, quickly turned into a conversation with my young friend about fruitcake. He said that there is a German fruitcake that is, “like ten times better than fruitcake”.
I absolutely hate fruitcake and I would suppose that it tastes like crap although I have never tasted crap. If you do the math, ten times better than crap is still crap.
That was the end of the conversation. Still, it’s Sunday afternoon and Sunday afternoon is when I usually have lots of time to think and sort out the little grey cells. That is usually when I pull out some of my bizarre thoughts and put them onto paper or the PC equivalent. I started thinking about my experience with fruitcake and its close cousin groom’s cake.
It has been my experience that groom’s cake is fruitcake tied up in a little piece of cloth with a nice thin ribbon. It’s handed out at the wedding and is traditionally tossed at the groom as he heads off on his honeymoon. When you’re young and you receive groom’s cake for the first time it’s natural to try and eat it. Just once. Then you start finding clever ways to get rid of it. Throwing it at the groom is as clever as I’ve been with it. If it’s set out long enough it can dent a car.
Groom’s cake can incorporate chocolate as an ingredient. Not at the weddings that I’ve been to. Of course when I was younger most of the weddings that I’d been to involved my grandma who got married eight times, and only lived to be 61. If you assume that she got married at 16 (we are from the south), she had the potential to be married 45 years. Let’s assume that she waited at least a year between each marriage, and that is a very pessimistic assessment, then she could have averaged 4.75 years per marriage. But I think that 4.75 is optimistic as most of the guys divorced her rather than her divorce them. She had some marriage free years besides birth to fifteen. From the divorce papers I’ve read she had a little bit of a temper and might have been abusive. But that’s only what the first seven said. Number eight actually lasted about 11 years and always had his tennis shoes at the doorstep in case he needed to make a fast exit. If Grandma were alive today she would be 88 years old, and on her 13th husband. God rest their souls.
Right, moving on. Groom’s cake is a tradition associated with the American south. I’ll have to admit that I wasn’t surprised by that revelation all. According to Wikipedia you can use cheesecake for groom’s cake. That would have changed my position if I’d been offered cheesecake. That I would eat. With its origins in the south I’m actually surprised that it does include ingredients like squirrel, possum, and road kill.
Fruitcake is made with ingredients that shouldn’t be in cake, namely fruit. It’s not just any fruit but candied fruit and/or dried fruit, nuts and spices, optionally soaked in spirits, you know, alcohol. Then you bake it. Yummy! It sounds like the chef that came up with the recipe was soaked in spirits. You can even order it by mail and I’m sure it’s now available on the Internet. Mass produced American fruitcakes don’t have alcohol but the traditional ones are saturated, yes saturated, with liqueurs or brandy and then covered in powdered sugar, both of which prevent mold. Is your mouth watering yet? In England it is often accompanied with cheese. Who came up with the bright idea that cheese would improve the situation? Has the FDA just looked the other way because I think there is a real crisis in our food chain?
Is mad cow disease an issue because we eat more beef than we do other meats? Why don’t we hear about “loony lambs disease” or “quaky duck syndrome”? Is there a “flaky fish” epidemic that we don’t know about? Who came up with the idea of feeding cow to cow in the first place? I sense cover up. Do they have advertisements in England with the tag line: “Mad Cow, It’s What’s for Dinner”?
I guess that the idea of eating your own species isn’t good for your health either. The more you eat the more you freak. That makes cannibalism a bad choice of diet. What was the first cannibal doing and thinking when he decided to eat his friends? Was it an issue of I’m starving to death and this is my only option to survival? Do cannibals prefer white or dark meat? Do we taste like chicken? Are we better broiled or roasted, baked or fried? Is there a glaze associated with eating humans? I guess that there is even a “social stigma” against cannibalism that it is used as propaganda against the cannibals. What an observation! Let’s use girls as an example. I have never once looked at a girl and said, “I wonder what she’d taste like in a white wine sauce”. Of course there is a social stigma, you’re supposed to love your fellow man, not have him as the third course.
Let’s move on. I’ve got to stop reading Robinson Crusoe. Opens up too many thoughts and questions.
I think that the message here is that “new and improved”, “100% better”, and “ten times better” are all phrases that shouldn’t be associated with bad food. In one of my earlier blogs I talked about the things I love and hate, I talked about the foods I hate. You can’t improve your hate for something except to hate it more. Ten times better than crap is still crap.
And it when it comes to fruitcake its still crap.