Hump Day: Nutty as a ‍fruitcake: my picky family’s Christmas feast

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014
Moncton Times & Transcript

About a month from now, many of us will be collapsed on our sofas wearing stretchy pants and complaining about everyone else’s eggnog breath. For all intents and purposes, Christmas will be but a memory as we start to think about making new year’s resolutions as we moan and groan from having eaten too much turkey, stuffing and ‍fruitcake as we cough up tinsel and pick the glass from broken Christmas ornaments out of our feet.

Speaking of ‍fruitcake, I’ve once again started the journey down the lonely path of trying to ‘wow’ everyone at Christmas dinner with a special dessert. Every year I try to make something that would make Martha Stewart green with envy, only to see it sit there unappreciated as the unwashed in my family eat other goodies that they’re more used to.

Trying to get people to try a new dessert at Christmas is not easy. Traditions are strong, and since food is so closely related to the holidays, it’s a tough habit to break despite making a valiant attempt at introducing something new at the table when all everyone wants is the same (but delicious) gooey goodness that we’ve eaten every year since birth. ‘Here, try this new cookie from a recipe I got from (insert name of famous TV chef here)! It’s what everyone in (insert name of foreign country no one can spell or pronounce) eats every Christmas morning as they sit under the tree weeping with emotion while basking in the togetherness of their family.’

fruitcakeAll I get is blank stares. ‘No thanks, we’ll eat the same (insert name of favourite holiday Christmas dessert) we’ve been eating for years.’ And you know what, that’s perfectly fine. I get it. It’s not Christmas without our traditional foods. Really, every culture and religion has their special feasts and holidays with foods so closely associated with them that it would take something dramatic for people to permanently change their traditions.

I mean, it’s not as if we’re ever going to see the entire family singing O Come All Ye Faithful on Christmas Day while sitting around Grandma’s ‘tuna surprise’ casserole. Well, if tuna casserole is your thing on Christmas Day fine… but I don’t remember the stores running out of canned tuna on Christmas Eve.

This year, I decided to make a ‍fruit‍‍cake. Since the holiday is about a month away, now was the time to start planning the booze-laden, delicious dark cake I was going to create from one of the recipes I’d researched online. I’d also received a number of great-looking recipes from friends after issuing a plea on Facebook. They all looked and sounded amazing. I’m a sucker for dark ‍fruitcake. How can anyone not like it? Where’s your humanity? Where’s your soul? There’s nothing quite like biting into a slice of this impossibly sweet treat filled with Frankenstein-like green and neon red maraschino cherries. (Don’t ever look up how the manufacturers make these things. Just eat them in blissful ignorance.)

When I told my mother that I was going to embark on a month-long fruitcake-making journey, she told me that she’d just bought a big one from a local charity organization who’s been selling them for years. I’m sure it’s delicious. I have no doubt. But will taking one bite make you instantly drunk for two weeks like the alcohol-soaked one I was going to make? Would you not be able to drive for a month like after taking a bite of mine? Would you go temporarily blind and lose the ability to smell for three days after your brain was assaulted by my impossibly boozy and sweet concoction which was pretty much just a solid piece of brandy? I think not.

I don’t think ‍fruitcake gets the respect it deserves.

First of all, it’s not cheap. I’m surprised the banks don’t have officials hired just to deal with people who want to make ‍fruitcakes at Christmas. ‘Car loan, sir? See Mrs. Smith down the hall. Mortgage, ma’am? See Mr. Lee upstairs. ‍Fruitcake, sir? Oh you poor thing. I’m so sorry to hear that. Just leave your favourite body part in this bucket and Mr. Jones will see you momentarily. Welcome to the wonderful world of poverty.’

You’d think that something so complicated, fancy and expensive to make would get more respect. Besides, it’s got booze in it. Lots of booze. You could leave it out on your counter for 10 years and it would still taste fresh. It’s the world’s perfect food.

I’m calling Helen Reddy. Time for her to record I Am ‍Fruitcake, Hear Me Roar!

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