31 January 2007


Fruitcake has a bad reputation. "There's only one fruitcake in the world, and it just gets passed around," people say. I know people who receive fruitcakes for Christmas and dump them immediately in the trash. I personally have thrown away light-colored cakes embedded with artificial-looking, almost transparent bits of red, green, and yellow candied fruit.

I am here to proclaim, however, that there is ONE kind of fruitcake that will potentially change your opinion forever: The fruitcakes made by the Trappist monks at Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery in Lafayette, Oregon. When I was growing up, my dear grandma would order them from the Norm Thompson catalog for Christmas every year. I still remember the small, square box with a picture of a monastery on the lid. For years, I skeptically watched as my grandma, my mom and her sister relished the tiny fruitcakes and declared them to be the best in the world.

At some point along the way, I decided to try a bite and immediately realized that this fruitcake was totally different than the others I had sampled and discarded. The Monastery Fruitcake was a dark, rich cake soaked in brandy and studded with walnuts, pecans, and real fruit. It was the kind of delicacy that we hoarded and savored, the tiniest sliver at a time, knowing that it would be another year until we could have it again. We looked forward to the fruitcakes every Christmas until one year when Norm Thompson stopped carrying them. In the days before the Internet, Grandma didn't know where else to find them, so we concluded that the fruitcakes, sadly, were no longer being made.

Grandma passed away a couple of years ago. This past Christmas, my aunt and I started reminiscing about those fruitcakes made by Trappist monks. What if they were actually still being made? We decided to find out. My aunt found a box from one of the fruitcakes tucked away in her basement. She gave me the name of the monastery and within 30 seconds, I had found multiple Internet sources and glowing reviews for the fruitcakes. Within 10 minutes, I had placed an order. Within seven days, four fruitcakes will be here: one for my mom, two for my aunt, and one just for me. I wish I could have ordered one for Grandma.

We are so excited. And I know that she would have been, too.

Click here for an Internet source for Monastery Fruitcake


Sharon said...

This actually looks good, Janet. I still have not found my dad's recipe for fruitcake. He only put in nuts and the fruits that we liked. He made them cupcake size. He didn't soak them in brandy. I don't think that he did. It's been many years since I tasted them. This brings back many memories. Please send me the website. Even if I find my dad's recipe, I am not likely to make it.

Shell said...

It seems to be only here in the US that fruitcake has a bad rep.

In NZ where I am from - it is a source of pride to make a decent one. I miss them - the REAL ones. Hmm maybe time for a trip home for my Mum's cake!! :-D

Janelle said...

Mmmmmmm...I adore fruitcake!

I always make it myself--I have a great recipe--but I didn't get around to doing it this Christmas. My mouth is literally watering over here!