The Richmond Register

Viewpoints

January 4, 2013

Ike’s fruitcake still not equal to Bob’s

Points East

PAINT LICK — When last I left you, readers, my fruitcake was out of the oven, cooled and ready for the display and serving apparatus.  

Loretta has this big 15-inch, crystal cake plate that is mounted on a sturdy base and pedestal. The plate has a deep, thick glass cover with a knob on top. I’m guessing the whole thing stands about 20 inches tall, from knob to table, and weighs about 20 pounds. The cover alone weighs well over five.   

The point I’m trying to make here is that whatever goes under that cover, and gets set out where people can see it, is going to be the center of attention to anyone who wanders into the same room.  

If I do say so myself, my blemish-free fruitcake, ever-so-lightly dusted with confectioner’s sugar, looked the model of glass-covered perfection as it sat there in the dining room from dawn on the day before Christmas until we finally served dinner at 6 p.m. on the big day.  

In retrospect, I can’t believe nobody thought to take its picture.  

But anyway, when Loretta helped herself to the first slice, sniffed the bite on her fork and finally popped it into her mouth, where she rolled it around for several seconds, I sat back, holding my breath, waiting for the verdict.   

After she swallowed, she nodded her head and said, “Oh, it’ll do. It’s very good, but it’s still not in the same league as Bob’s.”   

The verdict was, in fact, much better than I’d expected. The fact that my too-discerning wife declared it anything better than edible was enough. The fact that she mentioned it in the same breath as our friend, Bob Kennedy’s, fruitcake in nothing short of high praise.  

My pal, Bob, who lives in New Haven, Conn., where he is director of operations for Yale’s Timothy Dwight College, takes the time every year to bake fruitcakes for me and three other of his closest friends.

Bob bakes his cakes in a bread-loaf pan, wraps them in cling wrap and ships them in sturdy, cardboard, USPS priority-mail packages. Our mail carrier pulls into the driveway, honks because he has something that won’t fit in our mail-box, and then, before handing it over, he closes his eyes and takes one last, deep sniff of the package.  

We don’t even have to look at the return address to know who it’s from and what’s in it.   

Loretta always says that we ought to keep the Bob cake and serve it at a holiday meal, and I always say, “Sure,” as I unwrap it, put it on a serving tray and start a pot of coffee. Truth of the matter is that I ain’t sharing this cake with anybody except Loretta. The package had just my name on it, and I’m calling the serving shots. If she wants any, she’d better be grabbing a plate.

So, for 10 mornings or so after its arrival, we both savor a slice of Bob’s fruitcake, and I usually sneak another right before I go to bed. The cake would not last nearly as long as it does if I didn’t have diabetes.  

I believe that I’m using most, if not all, the same ingredients in my humble attempt as Bob does in his. But the final product that I turn out is not even close to his. On the bright side, though, my cake will still be around for at least a month, and we had to struggle to make Bob’s last 10 days.

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