Sep 27, 2011

Forever, Erma: Best-Loved Writing from America's Favorite Humorist

I never like to make generalities about people, but let's face it: People who love fruitcakes are "different."

I have never met a fruitcake baker in my life who didn't want to convert me to all that baked fruit. I can be standing in the baker's kitchen and announce without a trace of humor, "I do not like fruitcake. I have never liked fruitcake. I have sampled more than 10,000 species of fruitcake in my time, and it is my dream that I never have to sample it again," only to have someone put a slice in front of me and say, "Try it. This one is different."

Traditional Fruitcake - Photo by Wikipedia

Fruitcakes are not different. They all tend to be the same, each having an assortment of incompatible fruits and the distinction of weighing more than the stove they were cooked in. They defy all the culinary rules in the book. No one ever says, "This fruitcake is so light you don't know you're eating it." That is because the heavier the fruitcake, the better.

Another thing I hate about fruitcake lovers is they smile when their cake is rejected. I don't like people who do that. It's unnatural. I'd be more comfortable if they would just say, "Who asked you to eat this cake? It cost me forty-five bucks to make, and if it were up to me, I'd drop it on your ungrateful foot!" You can have respect for a person like that. But no, fruitcake lovers will stand by and watch you spit out the sample in your hand and say, "But isn't it moist?"

My mother is a fruitcake disciple. Every year since I've been old enough to hold a fork in my hand, she has tried to make a holiday conversion. Last Sunday, she opened her cake cover and there it was: 97 pounds of cooked fruit. "Doesn't that smell good?" she asked.

I said, "It smell like fruitcake."
She said, "I don't understand you. Your grandfather loved fruit-cake."
What has that go to do with me?"
"He loved you so. You were his favorite."
I watched her get out a small plate and knew what was coming.
"The pineapple alone cost six dollars," she said.
"I hate pineapple, Mother."
"It's Julia Child's recipe, and you like Julia Child."
I was tired of fighting. I opened my mouth, and she put in a slice of fruitcake.

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