Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Aunt Virginia's Fruit Cake

When we returned from Connecticut, we found on our doorstep, delivered that very day, a box I have been anticipating ever since I was a very small child. Every year at Christmas, no matter where in this crazy world our family was stationed, we received a homemade fruitcake from Aunt Virginia, my Dad's baby sister.

Aunt Virginia has always been a favorite of mine, and my inspiration. She has a lovely singing voice and even sang on the Major Bowes Amateur Hour in her youth. She was in the first class of the WAVES during World War II, adding the fifth star to my grandmother's window. She and Uncle Arthur raised five great kids, all of whom are delightfully quirky and solid members of society, while she pecked away at a Masters in Library Science. She went to work at the Jervis Library in her home town of Rome, NY and really never stopped, claiming that she needed to earn her "gin money." (And, indeed, she does drink a martini each evening). She worked part time until this year when she retired from active service. "Retired," however, only means that she's at the library two or three afternoons a week as a volunteer. I'm not sure she'd like me to divulge her exact age in so public a forum, but she still drives herself to Boston or NYC, attends numerous social events weekly, takes a single pill a day and makes delicious fruitcake in her eighth decade.

Double wrapped in plastic and foil, Aunt Virginia's fruitcake is densely heavy for its size and redolent of brandy, preserved fruits and rich nuts. Cutting a slice requires a balance of strength and finesse, strength to cut through all the goodies held in place by the merest hint of cake and delicacy to keep the thin slice from falling apart. One eats only thin slices of this rich, rich dessert - I defy anyone to finish a larger piece.

This year's cake came in a box gaily decorated with a small fortune in flower stamps, an unexpected bonus of color and cheer, much appreciated on the receiving end. Each year, Aunt Virginia threatens to discontinue making fruitcakes as the ingredients are increasingly difficult to find but, so far, we have continued to benefit from her generosity and culinary skill.

Merry Christmas Eve! Don't you wish you had an Aunt Virginia? I thought so.

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Blogger Buzz Baylis said...

Yes Virginia ... there is a Santa Claus!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008  
Blogger Chilebrown said...

Merry Christmas to you Zoomie. Maybe we can get together and have a Fruitcake party. People that like fruitcake are slowly disappearing. I still love to make and eat them. I use my variation of a recipe from Julia Child.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Yes, Santa Claus... there is an Aunt Virginia!

Merry Christmas, Zoomie and Buzz.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Buzz, oh, ouch. Corny!

Chilebrown, aaaah, a fellow fruitcake! Ooops, I mean a fellow fruitcake lover!

Cookiecrumb, clever, clever again! Merry Christmas to you and Cranky, too.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008  
Blogger Nerissa said...

I love fruitcake. I always wonder why so many people don't like it.

Aren't you lucky to have Aunt Virginia. My grandmother did make it but has long since stopped since her arthritis got bad.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008  
Blogger namastenancy said...

Now, that sounds like REAL fruitcake. My grandmother used to make her fruitcake in late summer so that it was well marinated by the time Christmas comes around. I still have fond memories of how delicious it tasted - fruit, nuts and lashings of brandy. It doesn't seem like a real Christmas without the fruit cake.

Thursday, December 25, 2008  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Nerissa, get your Granny's recipe and make some for her next year! :-)

Nancy, shall I save you a slice?

Thursday, December 25, 2008  
Blogger dancingmorganmouse said...

"The merest hint of cake", what a wonderful turn of phrase.

Thursday, December 25, 2008  
Blogger kudzu said...

This is the first year that I did not make my mother's white fruitcake and I admit I missed it in spite of the fact that I was usually one of only three in the family who genuinely cared for it. I know how much shopping, prepping and care go into those fabulous Christmas beauties so I envy your flower-stamped gift from Aunt Virginia. (And I'll betcha I make a fruitcake next year, even if I have to eat all that Grand Mariner-soaked cake myself.)

Friday, December 26, 2008  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Morgan, thank you - it always warms my soul when someone likes my writing!

Kudzu, you never have to eat alone with all these Bay area foodies panting to try your mother's white fruitcake! :-)

Friday, December 26, 2008  
Blogger colonialgp said...


Wednesday, January 07, 2009  
Blogger MissLorieO said...

I have the pleasure of knowing your Aunt Virginia, and have had the great pleasure of working with her these past 16 years at the library. She is a joy and a love, and we all enjoy working beside her very much. You are a lucky niece, indeed. She speaks as highly of you as you do write of her.

Friday, January 09, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

ColonialGP (Bill), she's a peach and we always enjoy our visits with her, or phone calling. Glad you liked the tribute - it was fun to write.

MissLorieO, lucky you to get to see Aunt V on a weekly basis! I'm glad she has fun colleagues!

Saturday, January 17, 2009  

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