Of Loaves and Fruitcakes


Credit: Paul Swansen, Flickr


This month’s Let’s Lunch theme is Festive Side Dishes. Mine may not exactly be a side dish. Then again, maybe it is…

Remember Y2K? When at the stroke of midnight our computers were going to stop working, air traffic would run amok, ATMs would run out of cash, and we’d all have to head for the hills in survivalist mode? So quaint were those worries, in the days before smartphones, the Cloud, or Status Updates.

Well, I remember that particular New Year’s Eve. Not for the supposed blackouts, food shortages and general mayhem that ensued. Well, maybe the food shortage.

To ring in the Year 2000, my husband and I (no kids yet) went to Lake Tahoe, where a couple dozen of his closest relatives would be celebrating in style. We were staying at a spacious mountain home owned by a newly divorced uncle. This house had everything you could possibly need: ready access to ski slopes, a hot tub, a big screen TV… well almost everything.

The snow was falling and the roads were icing up as guest after guest showed up, suitcases in hand. After the hugs and “How are you?”s, we all looked around at each other.

“What’s for dinner?” someone asked.

“Help yourself to anything in the fridge,” the uncle replied. Only the shelves held just a few leftovers and some expired bottles of salad dressing. Outside the snow kept falling, coating the steep mountain road.

A couple of the aunties hurried to nearest grocery store for frozen lasagna, while the toddlers whined, and the hungry college students glared.

Maybe it was the sudden silence, or perhaps it was the disappearance of the uncle into the kitchen that gave it away.
What did he have in there? With a pop of a vacuum-sealed tin, he plopped a fruitcake onto a plate and began cutting it into slices.

Everyone — young, old, vegetarian, low-carb — flocked to the kitchen and grabbed a slice of the Technicolor goodness.

Seeing as how he had redeemed himself, the uncle disappeared into the pantry and returned, arms laden with fruitcakes– some still in cardboard shipping boxes which were summarily ripped open.

Then, mouth still sticky with maraschino cherry, someone asked, “So where did all of these fruitcakes come from?”

The uncle mentioned the name of a distant relative. “He sends one every year. But nobody ever wants to eat them.”


I’m hoping to bake my own rendition of fruitcake this weekend.

Maybe I’ll even share my story of  how David Leibovitz saved me from post fruitcake stress disorder.


More Festive Side Dishes from Let’s Lunch:

A Tiger in the Kitchen: Singaporean Potato Gratin

Joe Yonan: Holiday Dishes at the Maine Homestead

Patrick Glee: Baby Pecan Pies

A Cook and Her Books: Not My Mama’s Black-Eyed Peas & Greens

Cowgirl Chef: Lime-Chipotle Carrots

Burnt-Out Baker: Eating Butterflies: Festive Treats for Ordinary Days

Spice Box Travels: Trinidadian Baked Pastelles

Zest Bakery: Coconut Date Balls and a Gluten-Free Dinner on Vashon Island

Free Range Cookies: Bake Me a Salad

Monday Morning Cooking Club: Potato Latkes

Zest Bakery: Gluten-Free Coconut Date Balls

The Kitchen Trials: Sweet Potato Casserole

Wok Star: Easy Festive Stirfry

Free Range Cookies: Bake Me a Salad

Savor the Taste of Oregon: Roasted Carrots, Parsnips and Delicata Squash

Maria’s Good Things: Grandma Dorothy’s Deviled Eggs

Grongar Blog: Martha’s Potato Kugel

Also, follow #LetsLunch on Twitter for more great posts from my lunching buddies!




  1. says

    if this funny story was about any other food item besides fruitcakes, i’d be totally grossed out. but that’s the thing about fruitcakes — they last forever and just won’t go stale! have fun making one!

  2. says

    Awesome story, Grace, and one that almost seems made up! You had me smiling the entire time. Thank you, because your story is the first thing I read this morning upon first waking, after checking my e-mails that is (your notification was in there).


    P.S. I am hoping to bake my fruitcake this week sometime. :)

    • says

      Thank you so much, Virginia! Your comment made my day. I can see how the story sounds crazy… but it’s really true! Hope your fruitcake turns out well. I made mine yesterday, and my estimations in adapting a chocolate cake to a non-chocolate fruitcake didn’t come out exactly as I hoped. But still good :) Wishing you a wonderful Christmas season!

  3. Weston Scott Fisher says

    While I was only 15 at the time, and can’t remember much from that New Years, I can say…

    1. I have many memories of empty shelves and expired salad dressing (isn’t it great that the salad dressing always sticks in the mind).
    2. We most definitely had several years worth of Fruit Cake from cousin Lynn.
    3. Knowing my father (the uncle), I would under no condition doubt that this scenario would play out, even though I can’t recall the specifics.


  4. says

    My father actually liked fruitcakes – but of course, no one ever made one in my family because he was the only one who’d eat them. Seems like every year he’d have a slice…which makes me wonder if he was eating off of the same one for years…


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