Where did the fruitcake come from and why is it here? Read on for some fruity answers.
I once heard it said that there is really only one fruitcake in the entire world and that it keeps passing from house to house throughout the world since time immemorial. Could this be so? While this seems unlikely, fruitcakes are hard to the touch sometimes, which might befit an arduous and never ending journey.
The fruitcake has a solid history, dating back to the days of The Crusades, when they were taken on long pilgrimages in search of that Holy Grail because they kept so well (fruitcakes, not grails). In Italy, Panforte, is said to be made from the very same ancient recipe, (Perhaps, if I am right, even the very same set of ingredients!)
It is not really known how the fruitcake first came to be associated with the holidays, but it may come from the days of Elizabethan England, when the poor were given slices of cake as they sang carols in the cold streets of London. In other parts of Europe, during the 17th century, the fruitcake is associated with European nut harvests.
In America, it is said that Ben Franklin once spoke of his wife’s “fruitloaf,” which when eaten was so hard that it broke someone’s tooth. He suggested to George Washington that its contents be used as a barricade against the British, but it is not known if Washington appreciated Ben’s advice on war tactics.
Wherever it came from and whatever it’s called, the fruitcake is here to stay and will always be the butt of holiday jokes. If for no other reason than its durability, it is worthy of some sort of respect. (Isn’t it?)
Do YOU have any fruitcake stories to tell? By all means, pass them on and have a happy, healthy holiday!