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The Final Word on Fruitcake

The Final Word on Fruitcake

Rick Kushman | The Sacramento Bee, Calif.

Darrell Corti stood at the head of the table, explaining the tasting last week with the same mix of detail, old-school charm and earnest curiosity that goes into all his food and wine explorations.

He had a small, food- fascinated group in his dining room (including me and my Bee colleague and pal Chris Macias). We had background material, tasting sheets, carefully arranged samples from around the country.

All that for fruitcake.

“Many people consider this the gift that keeps on giving,” Corti said by way of introduction. “No one ever eats a fruitcake; they just send them on.”

Poor, poor fruitcake. When even Corti, one of the most respected food authorities in America, gives it grief, you know it’s one maligned piece of chow.

Actually, though, Corti and company were not disrespectful. He called the tasting “The dessert people love to hate,” and the point was to decide, as he said, “Is fruitcake really worth eating?”

The short answer is, it depends – on your mood, your tastes and surely on the cake. Good ones don’t come cheap.

But first, let’s run through the jokes:

• There’s only one fruitcake in the world. It just gets passed around. – Johnny Carson is credited most for that.

• Initially designed as a doorstop. – Anonymous.

• Keep that thing away from me. – My wife.

It’s not just one-liners. On the first Saturday each January, Manitou Springs, Colo., stages the Great Fruitcake Toss. Categories include flinging manually and using launching tools like catapults, giant slingshots and spud guns. If you forget your fruitcake, you can rent one.