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Monday, November 24, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 40.0° F  Light Drizzle
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Completely nutty
Fruitcake is the gift that keeps on being given
on

Okay, once and for all, what are we supposed to do with these fruitcakes? It's not even Christmas yet, and we've already gotten three of the things. One would have been too many. In fact, we still have one from last year, never opened. The only person around here who can stand the stuff is my 70-year-old grandmother, who happens to be the person responsible for one of the ones we've already received. We tried to let her know we didn't really need one this year, dropped hints all over the place and made jokes about how you could pave a street with these bricks. But she's so used to the jokes that she doesn't realize we might actually mean it. I'm not sure why fruitcakes are so annoying, but IT HAS TO STOP! Help!!!

Vixen

Vixen: Why, Vixen, whatever do you mean? I loves me some fruitcake - all those candied fruits, in their pleasing assortment of colors, the chopped raisins, the nuts, the spices, the not-so-faint taste and smell of brandy, if not whiskey. I do believe that, in the entire history of Christmas, there's no finer concoction than....

...I'm sorry, I can't keep this up. I hate fruitcake. Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate it. In fact, if I'd already eaten every drop of the fudge, divinity and peanut brittle, I still wouldn't eat the fruitcake. If I was starving and someone tossed me a fruitcake, I'd toss it back. And if I happened to be in a press conference with the president of the United States at the time, I'd toss it at him. Then I'd toss another one at him. And another one, until the Secret Service finally decided to do its job, at which point I would start tossing fruitcakes at them. I figure I could hold them off for hours.

What is it about fruitcake? Well, let me count the ways. First, it's those candied fruits - cherries, apricots, citrons. Citron? Isn't that a car? You'll notice there's not a big call for candied fruits the other 364 days of the year. There's a reason for that: They're foul. Second, it's the texture. I like gnawing on concrete as much as the next guy, but where oh where is the cake part of fruitcake? It's like chewing your way through a Gummi Bear factory. Third, there's the illustrious history. I realize that fruitcakes go all the way back to ancient Egypt or ancient Rome, depending on when you last checked the Wikipedia entry, but just because they have a shelf-life - make that half-life - of 3,000 years doesn't mean we should have to eat them now.

Like it or not, our taste buds have moved on. Today, kids prefer Pudding Pops over figgy pudding, and I'm with them on that one. I tried Yorkshire pudding a few years ago and nearly died of a heart attack on the spot. Couldn't we all just agree that "pudding" refers to a soft, creamy substance sold by Jell-O? Fruitcake harks back to the pre-Jell-O era, when a foodstuff wouldn't necessarily make it through a nuclear war because of all the added preservatives. So you buried it in sugar and soaked it in alcohol and added spices to mask the flavor of encroaching death and decay. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but that's how I feel when I bite into one!

What can you do with your excess fruitcakes? I think that's been adequately covered by Diane Lewis' wonderful book 50 Ways to Recycle Fruitcake, available at your local library and not to be confused with Simon Bond's 101 Uses for a Dead Cat. Should you go ahead and confuse the two anyway, allow me to make one final point regarding Christmas desserts: If it's moist, that's probably the cat.

To blame me for your seasonal-affective disorder, write to: Mr. Right, Isthmus, 101 King St., Madison, WI 53703. Or call 251-1206, ext. 152. Or email mrright@isthmus.com.

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