06 December 2018

Guest Post, and Food Network Magazine!

Hello all, and happy fruitcake season! I hope that yours are all ordered, or are freshly baked and soaking up some tantalizing liquor in your basement/garage/fridge/mouth. I've been quite busy at work so unfortunately didn't even get around to baking fruitcakes this year, however my friends did, so I will be posting soon about our annual fruitcake tasting.

The December issue of Food Network Magazine contains an article on fruitcake where I'm quoted.  Looks to be a really interesting article on fruitcake's resurgence, to which I proclaim a loud HUZZAH! I believe the article is currently only in their printed magazine so by all means pick one up.

If you're here because of that magazine article, welcome and please take a look around! You can also like my Facebook page and join other fruitcake lovers there.

Until further posts, please enjoy a guest post by Jay Martin, where he describes his love for a good monastery fruitcake and provides some great links and reference at the bottom. Please excuse the differences in font -- in the interest of expediency I will post it as is.

Thanks, Jay!

Monks selling fruitcake

Guest post by Jay Martin

Every year my mom sends my brother a fruitcake. This year her source dried up, a clothing catalog called Norm Thompson. Her fallback source, the Vermont Country Store, didn’t have the right kind of fruitcake, which is baked by monks in Oregon. My mom asked for help. I stalled.
You see, I’m the son who likes fruitcake. Years ago my mom confused my brother with me somehow. Maybe my brother likes fruitcake too, or maybe he’s just been gracious. Either way my brother has received at least 14 Christmas fruitcakes that should have been mine.

I searched Google for monks selling fruitcake. The Oregon monks my mom remembered weren’t even the first search result. Impressed, I started a list. Google showed six monasteries, then I found Mondo Fruitcake which knew about two more, and then I found some nuns. The nuns in New York and the monks in Michigan are Orthodox, but most are Trappists, monks who stay silent at meals.

I’m the son who eats fruitcake. I’m the son who in a Christmas show attempted to eat an entire fruitcake in the time it takes to sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” I was going to succeed too, until the singers sped up.

The Michigan monks bake a four-and-a-half pound fruitcake. The Kentucky monks go up to five pounds. I added those details to my list. All the monks douse the fruitcakes. My mom was surprised to hear that fruitcakes have rum in them—or peach brandy if your monastery is in Georgia. I assured her that was the regular recipe.

I’m the son who baked fruitcake. I baked professionally, briefly. I worked at Jen’s Hawaiian Bakery Café in Santa Cruz, California. We used dried pineapple and tropical fruit. We moistened our fruitcakes with guava concentrate.

I sorted my list. Most of the monasteries were established in the years after World War II. Many young men sought a religious life after the military, including my dad. I showed the list to my mom, and she chose the California monks, who are Camaldolese. It's a monastery we think my dad visited. My brother got my dad's religious side, which might explain my mom's confusion about which son should receive a fruitcake baked by monks. I ordered the fruitcake for my brother.

I’m the son who knows fruitcake. After I placed the order, I came back to Mondo Fruitcake. Isabelle has tasted all the fruitcakes from monks (and fruitcakes from 26 other sources). I looked at her ratings. The fruitcake I ordered my brother wasn't number 1. Isabelle likes best the one she had as a child, which her mom still sends her every Christmas. Without telling my mom, I ordered Isabelle's favorite fruitcake for myself.

Monks selling fruitcake: the list

Guest post by Jay Martin

Here is a list of monks and nuns who sell fruitcake online as of Christmas 2018. Prices are rounded to the dollar and include shipping but not rush shipping.
- Abbey of Gethsemani (est. 1848) in Trappist, Kentucky, 2.5 pounds for $57 or 5 pounds for $101, store and fruitcake
- Monastery of the Holy Spirit (est. 1944) in Conyers, Georgia, 1 pound for $28 or 2 pounds for $43, store and fruitcake
- Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey (est. 1948) in Carlton, Oregon, 1 pound for $30 or 3 pounds for $39, store and fruitcake
- Assumption Abbey (est. 1950) in Ava, Missouri, 2 pounds for $35, store and fruitcake
- Holy Cross Abbey (est. 1950) in Berryville, Virginia, 2.25 pounds for $47, store and fruitcake
- Abbey of the Genesee (est. 1951) in Piffard, New York, 2 pounds for $49, store and fruitcake
- New Camaldoli Hermitage (est. 1958) in Big Sur, California, 1 pound for $39, fruitcake
- New Skete Monasteries (est. 1966) in Cambridge, New York, about 2 pounds for $49, store and fruitcake
- Holy Transfiguration Skete (est. 1983) in Eagle Harbor, Michigan, 4.5 pounds for $66, store and fruitcake

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