Monday, December 26, 2005
Boxing Day Thoughts on Fruit Cake
Uses for Fruitcake. There have to be some. I had almost made it through Christmas without having to deal with the dreaded Fruitcake - then, lo and behold, one arrived in a carefully disguised gift bag. It was at the bottom - a store bought variety in a long slim box.
The Ravishing Mrs. Cordeiro and I regarded it with a smile. As I've come to learn, nobody really eats these things. The nutrition label on the box declared the contents to have enough calories, sugar, fat, and dried fruit to feed the population of Honduras for a month. So, as I plan on living long enough to make my New Year's Resolutions, I have to find something to do with this Fruitcake.
You see, I have a long and tortured relationship with Fruitcake. Mother Cordeiro, for more years than I care to remember, insisted on making Fruitcake (from her Grandmother's recipe) to include with the boxes of gifts we sent out every year to various family members. The recipe is very detailed - containing everything from four kinds of nuts to candied and dried fruit one seldom sees outside of a Fruitcake.
Capitalistic wisdom dictates the companies making this stuff, especially the candied and dried fruit, have to make money. Somebody has to buy this stuff. Mother Cordeiro no longer makes the Fruitcake, so I wonder if the Cordeiro Family is responsible for some unemployed fruit candiers someplace in Arizona.
But I digress.
After much mixing, the contents of the mixing bowl look like something one would see in a porcelain bowl after said contents had been processes by a human stomach. The contents of the bowl are then divided into loaf pans for the baking process - baked, then wrapped in aluminum foil. The last words of the recipe are, and I kid you not, "Flavor improves with age."
So, what happens to these Fruitcakes? Some make it to party platters. I'd say some was given to the dog, but I've tried that before and it didn't work out so well for the dog. Here are some of the places I've found the silver packaged Fruitcake:
1. Shelving Materials
2. Door Stops
That list doesn't include all the dark recesses of the pantry, closets, and other nooks and crannies of houses where similar unwanted gifts are deposited.
Fruitcakes are still being made commercially. This means someone is buying them. If this person is you, get help. Stop the insanity.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Cordeiro Legends - Christmas Advent
As most of my Sitemeter rated 5 readers may know, I am an Army Brat. For the untrained ear, that means I spent the first 19 years or so of my life hopscotching around the United States, Germany, and Korea as my father was transferred according to the whims of the United States Army.
Thus, my family's Christmas traditions are a patchwork of American, European, and other cultures we encountered during our travels. One tradition we brought back from Germany was the tradition of Advent.
To make a long explanation a little less detailed, Advent is an event taking place during the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Family members gather around the table, light the candles of the Advent Carousel or similar spinning structures and singing Christmas Carols.
Each week another candle is added, and by Christmas Eve the Carousel spins like a ceiling fan.
When this tradition started, Mother Cordeiro was very strict about the type of carols we were to sing. There was to be no 'ad-libbing' of carols like Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer. Elvis' Blue Christmas was absolutely forbidden.
As the years have progressed, the Cordeiro family gathers around the table much less frequently - most years the Sunday ritual is patched together on something resembling a teleconference using the Cordeiro land line and several cell phones. Each family member, going from youngest to oldest, picks a carol. Free weekend minutes make it much easier.
The songs sung have changed with the passage of time. Somehow Elvis was finally allowed in, and the 12 Days of Christmas (complete with live action on each of the different days) is a spectacle to be both seen and heard, as long as you're not offended by a very (and purposely so) loud and off key rendition.
I'm not sure the Germans would recognize their tradition if they were to see how the Cordeiro family has "modified" it. I'm sure there's an anthropological study in there somewhere.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Cordeiro Family Legends
I've decided to catalog somewhat the various Cordeiro Family Legends. Every family has them, most of them are so embellished by the passing of time they bear scant resemblance to the original event. Some may be lies. Others may be damn lies. You can choose which category they belong to.
In the late 1970's and early 1980's my father was stationed in Germany. We spent three years there (stories for another Cordeiro Family Legend post). When the time came for our departure, the packers came and packed up all our stuff (including several full trashcans), the movers came and took the stuff away, and the Cordeiro Family (complete with six children) made our way to the Frankfurt International Airport for our trip back Stateside.
Each was permitted two checked bags and a carry on bag - or two. Mother Cordeiro, being exceptionally astute as always, came up with the brilliant idea of using US Army dufflebags for our checked luggage. Well, two bags multiplied by eight people comes out at 16 dufflebags. Each bag was packed to nearly overflowing.
How we made it to the airport is a story for another post. It involves vomit and an Army uniform, and I'll leave it at that.
The flight home was tricky. We checked our baggage and somehow got all eight of us on the plane. We flew from Frankfurt to New York's JFK, eating dinner over the Pond. Upon arriving to JFK and clearing customs, we found that only 12 of the 16 duffles had made the trip with us. Finding this out took most of our layover time, so we made quite the spectacle trying to make the connection for the flight to St. Louis.
Coming into St. Louis (getting another dinner somewhere over Ohio) we found we had lost another four duffles in the connection. Again, finding this out took most of our layover time, but my father and I had wisely sent Mother Cordeiro and the rest of the younger kids ahead to the gate. The connection spectacle was no less hectic for us - as we ran through the terminal in a fashion reminiscent of OJ Simpson's Hertz commercial. Yes, Simpson was a commercial actor before he became a murderer.
Our final destination was Salt Lake City. When it was all said and done, we arrived in Salt Lake with eight family members, and six dufflebags. All the duffles did eventually arrive - a few one day, others the next, still others took a week or so to make the trip.
Who says Transatlantic Travel isn't an adventure?