Sunday, December 27, 2009

Fruitcake Poll Results

What is fruitcake?
1. a rich cake containing dried or candied fruit, nuts, etc.
2. Slang. a crazy or eccentric person; nut.

Indeed, this chewy, rich confection is a staple of the holidays, but what, exactly, is it? It is called a cake, but because it is full of nuts and candied fruits, it resembles a candy bar. When sliced, pieces look like cookies.

In ancient times, fruitcake was made with raisins, pomegranate seeds, and pine nuts mixed together with barley. Later, honey, spices, and candied-dried fruits were added. Because of fruitcake's consistency and longevity, early soldiers and hunters carried it with them on long journeys.

In the 1700s, Europeans baked ceremonial fruitcakes at the end of the nut harvest, saved them, and then ate them at the until next year's harvest. This was done with the hope that it would bring another successful harvest.

Also, throughout Europe during this time, the consumption of fruitcake (also called plum cake) was legally restricted to special occasions because of its "sinfully rich" taste. Those laws were later rescinded, and fruitcake became an essential of the Victorian tea era.

In 18th-century England, it was believed that unmarried wedding guests who put a slice of fruitcake under their pillow at night would dream of the person they would eventually marry.

Today fruitcake has become the butt of many jokes, and idolized as the one most dreaded gift. What made fruitcake a succes in the past have become it's downfall in the presant; it's longevity, sweetness, and nutritional/physical density.

Looking at the poll results there is far less detest for fruitcake than expected. Only 25% polled claimed to flat out not like fruitcake. While I'm not a huge fan of fruitcake it does convey some feeling of celebration and I would surely enjoy a slice during the holidays. If by chance you have some fruitcake this season enjoy it and savor in it's long history.


Diana said...

I love fruitcake, but I never recieved one as a gift, but it would be nice.

Michael Walsh said...

I'll see what I can do! Maybe a 10 quart, thirty pound fruitcake?

Rachel said...

I have to say I grew up hating HATING fruitcake but having had a real English Victorian-style one this Christmas, I have to say I'm a convert. There is the added marzipan layer and the alcohol that really does the trick. Also -- it was more like cake and less like a candybar. Yum!

Michael Walsh said...

I guess even fruitcake is better when consumed closest to it's origin.