The fruitcake, that is.
Yes, the often maligned and frequently regifted fruitcake.
Last week I was given a virgin fruitcake by the burly and bearded Ghost of Christmas Cooking—and by virgin, I mean that it was just out of the oven and yet unadulterated by alcohol.
(Trust me, that is coming.)
Before you question what evil deed I encumbered onto this person to promulgate the bestowing of such a burden, I must admit, I asked for it.
O.K. now would be an appropriate juncture to intone on me the moniker of a certifiable fruitcake. Hey, what can I say, I actually like them. Well, under certain conditions.
So, the task at hand is to create the correct conditions that consist primarily of adding an appropriate quantity of rum. As you can see from this picture, I figure a handle of Myers Dark Rum would be just about right.
As I pondered the significance of this holiday treat, I wondered if there was some global connection that would tie into the theme of this blogsite (which after three years, I am still trying to figure out, myself).
Well, we know we can usually depend on Wikipedia to provide a plethora of information, some of it even true.
As to the history,
“The earliest recipe from ancient Rome lists pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins that were mixed into barley mash.”
Since the original recipe had a barley mash base, is it such a surprise that later versions included copious amounts of whiskey and other spirits, given the simple distillation process of one into the other?
The oldest “living” fruitcake supposedly still in existence was made by Fidelia Ford, from Ohio, on November 27, 1878.
Yes, that is 133 years ago. It even once made an appearance on the Tonight Show, with Jay Leno. Apparently, the family is unable or unwilling to dispose of the now historical artifact.
Or, more likely, they have been unable to find a waste depository with a hazardous material rating sufficient to accept this item.
One company sells an item that ensures you won’t end up with some pseudo-food product, which you can’t figure out whether to eat, store, dump, or leave somewhere out on the street.
Back to the online reference, worldwide variants are listed from around the planet, including from various European locations, Canada, the United States, and certain Caribbean countries.
Since I was recently in Scotland, I was drawn to the Scottish Black Bun recipe. This is obviously a lesser version on the traditional pasty, as it calls for only one tablespoon of whiskey. Apparently, the Scotts prefer their whisky to be served neat.
But, for some reason—I’m sure well founded—it is the tropical nations’ take on this baked brew of barley and booze that are clearly the most desirable to emulate, and by most desired I mean they are soaked in plentiful portions of rum.
“Fruit cake in Trinidad and Tobago is a traditional part of the Christmas celebration. The cake incorporates a large quantity of raisins and rum and becomes a staple dinner item between the Christmas season and New Years’.”
And, a little further to the north,
“In the Bahamas, not only is the fruitcake drenched with rum, but the ingredients are as well. All of the candied fruit, walnuts, and raisins are placed in an enclosed container and are soaked with the darkest variety of rum, anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months in advance. The cake ingredients are mixed, and once the cake has finished baking, rum is poured onto it while it is still hot.”
It seems like just two years ago (maybe because it was two years ago) I went looking for a local “sporting event” which utilized this infamous Christmastime baked good, but instead found frivolous, yet fascinating fruitcake facts.
Like the folks in Manitou Springs, Colorado, who fling fruitcakes great distances from Old Gaelic German catapults in the Great Fruitcake Toss.
Or the truly environmentally oriented gang over at the Great Fruitcake Recycling Project, who are doing their level best to save the earth, one fruitcake at a time.
Probably the most interesting factoid from their operation is that,
“Each year, over 50,000 gallons of rum and assorted spirits are extracted in the recycling process.”
Speaking of processing gallons of grog, I gotta go back and pour some more on my Christmas cake, or as we call it around here, an alcohol delivery system barely disguised as a dessert.
If you don’t hear from me before Thursday—which is a distinct possibility—have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
It’s probably going to be a cup for the cake and a cup for the kitchen crew. A cup for the cake and a cup for the kitchen crew. A cup for the cake and a cup for the kitchen crew.
Repeat as necessary. Oh yeah, I already did.