Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Wishing everyone a happy new year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fruitcake and Family

Major time zone differences and an ocean distance from family are perhaps the most difficult for me as an expatriate, particularly at this time of year. That, and fruitcake.

There was an occasion, prior to marrying my Australian-born-and-bred husband, when he stated intent to make fruitcake. I thought he was teasing. Seriously. Fruitcake? To eat? I never ate fruitcake. I don’t even remember seeing fruitcake. Although I think I saw a neighbor use it as a doorstop once. And I remember hearing a claim that fruitcake made a good boat anchor.

Rumor had it that one fruitcake circulated around America and had done so for a hundred years, maybe and likely longer. To the best of my knowledge, no one doubted the rumor. Mostly no one wanted that fruitcake. In America the fruitcake legend begins each December when people discuss where it is, who will receive it or how to use it. Eating it is never ever an option.

Unless of course an American (that’s me) has a wedding in Australia and the traditional wedding cake just happens to be fruitcake. Since we were married on April Fool’s Day, and not one but two fruitcakes were on the bridal table - they were large and round and I’m sure sort of staring at me - I naturally thought: ''joke''! I searched the room for the 'real' cake. Instead of seeing what I thought might be a four-tiered butter cream-frosted cake draped with vibrant sugar flowers, my eyes landed on my mother-in-law. She was looking at those cakes with great pride and stated the love and care she took in creating them. So, apparently not a doorstop or a boat anchor, my groom and I carefully cut through thick marzipan and I had my first taste of fruitcake. In that moment, still loyal to the fruitcake legend, I became a closet fruitcake fan.

This is a happy time of year for me. I look forward to sharing the same time zone on the same side of the ocean, in our French home with our American family. We will laugh about that lost fruitcake traveling aimlessly around America. We will generate new ideas for the use and function of fruitcake. And as everyone tucks into La Bûche de Noël, I will think of my mother-in-law and tidy the closet.