The Much Maligned Fruitcake Gets Its Revenge

I love fruitcakes. My mother, born in Mobile, Alabama in 1922, has been making great fruitcakes since she was a teenager. Every Christmas that I can remember, Mom would bake up a batch. Her recipe: plenty of sugar, butter, fresh coconut, fruit soaked in bourbon, and nuts. Rich, moist, ridiculously sweet, with the tang of…

Fruitcake
Published January 13, 2012 3:01 PM
2 min read

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I love fruitcakes. My mother, born in Mobile, Alabama in 1922, has been making great fruitcakes since she was a teenager. Every Christmas that I can remember, Mom would bake up a batch. Her recipe: plenty of sugar, butter, fresh coconut, fruit soaked in bourbon, and nuts. Rich, moist, ridiculously sweet, with the tang of booze, Mom’s fruitcakes were the best part of Christmas.

 

By Peter Jovanovich

I love fruitcakes. My mother, born in Mobile, Alabama in 1922, has been making great fruitcakes since she was a teenager. Every Christmas that I can remember, Mom would bake up a batch. Her recipe: plenty of sugar, butter, fresh coconut, fruit soaked in bourbon, and nuts. Rich, moist, ridiculously sweet, with the tang of booze, Mom’s fruitcakes were the best part of Christmas.

Imagine my shock, after a youth marinated in this dessert, to discover that the rest of humanity hates fruitcakes. People demean, deprecate, depreciate, and diss fruitcakes with a passion equal to my love of this confectionary delight. I’ve heard every fruitcake joke ever invented, and suffered quietly the agony of wondering: Does anyone in this world love fruitcakes as I do?

 

FruitcakeSpectacularly, in my twenties, my faith in fruitcakes was reaffirmed. My father was the publisher of Andy Warhol in the mid-70s, and he and my mother were invited one day to lunch at “The Factory”.

 

I’m still trying to imagine this scene: the various freakish hanger’s-on of Warhol dining with my proper Southern lady of a mother. Warhol, looking pale, almost translucent, especially after being shot in the abdomen a few years before, was seated next to Mom.

 

Mrs. Jovanovich: “Andy, you look unwell. Do you feel alright?”

 

Warhol: “You know, Martha, you’re the first person who has ever asked if I were OK.”

 

Mrs. Jovanovich: “Andy, I know with your digestion it’s hard to eat; but do your best.”

 

Warhol: “Thanks, Martha.”

 

That Christmas, my mother baked her usual batch of fruitcakes and sent one to Warhol. A month later, a big crate arrived at our house. It was a numbered Warhol print of his famous Chairman Mao painting. It was signed: “Dear Martha Yovanovich, thank you, Andy Warhol.”

Two things happened immediately. Mom called Andy and said thank you, but informed him he’d misspelled her name. “What, Martha?” “No, Andy,” my last name!” And my father ordered my mother to start baking!

 

For four more Christmases my mother baked a fruitcake for Andy; and in turn he sent her a signed Warhol print.

 

This Christmas, as several generations of our family sat around the dining room table, surrounded by five Warhol’s, I asked my mother: “Is there something different about the taste of your fruitcake this year?”

 

“Son, how good of you to notice,” said Mom. “I switched from bourbon to Jack Daniels. Don’t you think it has a more subtle flavor?”
Wherever Andy Warhol passed on to, I hope he gets a slice.

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