Okay, the truth is I hate fruitcakes. Despite the fact that I live sixty miles from one of the most famous fruitcake bakeries in the world (see here), I hate fruitcakes.
I don't think it's only an urban myth that there are only a dozen fruitcakes in the world. I firmly believe it. They are just recycled (read here: regifted) over and over each year. I'd never actually eat one. Use it as a doorstop, maybe, but not eat it.
Imagine my disgust when I received not one, but TWO, fruitcakes for Christmas this year. From the same freaking bakery.
By now, you know that I'm Italian and Irish--a lethal combination. Both sides of my family were incredibly fertile, and I have thirty-two aunts and uncles. Two of my elderly aunts (one from each side of the family) sent me a fruitcake this year. Looking at the name on the box, I immediately realized why: the cakes came from Gethsemani Farms.
Gethsemani: the orchard in which Jesus watched and suffered the night before He was crucified. No wonder my Catholic aunts couldn't resist. A masterful stroke of promotion. The company probably buys the mailing lists from every Catholic church and nursing home in the country.
And, to raise the stakes, elevating their fruitcake above, say, Harry & David's pears (which I would truly have welcomed as a gift), the brochure says that the fruitcakes at Gethsemani Farms are baked by TRAPPIST MONKS. How could a good Christian even think about selecting a gift from Hickory Farms instead?
Anyway, here I was with two flipping fruitcakes. I hesitated to ship them off to one of my friends or relatives. I mean, a fruitcake??? They'd be bound to know it was a re-gift.
Then, I was on the phone with my friend R, who happened to mention that her daughter wanted mom to bake a fruitcake for the holiday season. I leaped to the rescue, bringing her part of my Gethsemani bounty. I shoved the other cake into my refrigerator the week before Christmas, planning to palm it off on some unsuspecting guest . . . maybe a Mormon missionary come to the door to save my soul. Didn't give it another thought since.
Until this weekend. I'm stuck in the house with a serious case of PMS and an ice storm sweeping Texas. My friends say PMS makes them cranky. Not me. It makes me ravenous. Ravenous and locked inside for three days. Not a pretty picture.
I checked the cupboard: popcorn, Ritz crackers, more popcorn (cheddar cheese and carmel, a Christmas gift). The refrigerator yielded cheese, apples, a couple of Harry & David pears (at least one of my relatives has good sense) and, of course, the fruitcake.
I really wanted something sweet so, with trepidation, I opened the fruitcake tin and cut the plastic wrap surrounding the ringed treat.
The minute I tore the wrapping, the strong smell of bourbon assaulted my nose.
Bourbon? I cut a tiny slice of cake.
Oh. My. God. We're not talking fruitcake here, we're talking ambrosia. Ambrosia from the Greek words for "not mortal." Food of the gods.
I'll be the first to admit that alcoholism runs--nay, gallops--in my family. For that reason, I'm not a big drinker. But, of course, this was holy fruitcake made by the Trappist monks at Gethsemani Abbey. That made it all right. Besides, the bourbon was probably just an afterthought.
Did I mention the Abbey/Farm is in Kentucky? As in Kentucky bourbon?
I've been nibbling on this blessed fruitcake all weekend. I haven't even minded that I was trapped inside by the storm, or that I'm working on edits or that I need to get the Passionate Ink membership lists in order. We're talking heaven on earth here.
I went online to check out this Trappist abbey with its heavenly bourbon recipe. Here's what their website says:
Since 1848, when 44 Trappist monks from the Abbey of Melleray in western France made themselves a new home in the hills of central Kentucky, Gethsemani has been a hardworking community. Supporting themselves at first by farming, the monks now depend on their mail-order sales of homemade fruitcake, cheese and bourbon fudge.
Bourbon fudge? Bourbon FUDGE!! For a mere $16.50, you can get a one pound box of fudge while, for $29, you can buy a 2 1/2 pound fruitcake. Did I mention that both are heavily laced with bourbon?
If you want a piece of heaven, go here. I'm telling you, this fruitcake makes Harry & David look like pikers.
Gotta go. I hear a fruitcake calling.