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The Zen of Fruitcake

Washington Post Photo


From The Hill:

There are many critics of fruitcake, especially Christmas fruitcake. Rep. Earl Blumenauer is certainly not one of them.

The Oregon Democrat this week has been walking up and down the halls of Congress, delivering some of the 264 fruitcakes he baked for his colleagues, staffers and friends.

The avid bicyclist calls these his “drive-by cakings”...

It’s the “Zen of the Fruitcake,” he says, and by all accounts the results are delicious.

Blumenauer began making fruitcakes about 25 years ago, over a long Thanksgiving weekend retreat at a cabin on the Oregon coast...

From the Oregonian:

Whenever I'm in the nation's Capitol, I love seeing how the members of Congress reflect their districts... 

I thought of this when I saw Portland Rep. Earl Blumenauer's blog explaining the joys of his big DIY holiday project: mass-produced fruitcakes...

From The Washington Post

The Congressional Fruitcake Caucus consists of one wildly enthusiastic member: Rep. Earl Blumenauer. The Oregon Democrat is in the final stages of his annual fruitcake frenzy: 264 handmade mini-loaves for friends, family, staffers and a few lucky members of Congress.

"As you know, fruitcake can be daunting to some," he told us Wednesday. "Most people have a vision of fruitcake as dense, dark, with the texture of plywood and a taste to match. I offer a lighter, cakier version."

From The man Himself:


The Zen of the Fruitcake includes far more than the “high” I get from baking. Sharing the fruitcake experience from the beginning has generated a torrent of fruitcake cards, cartoons, and news accounts from friends (and others) over the years. There is a distinct “fruitcake lore.” Fruitcake lovers (and there are some) form a secret society. It’s like you know the code, the handshake, the oath. You don’t need to exchange recipes and war stories to have a sense of kinship.

Then there is the delivery. Part of what I do every year is to share my prized efforts with others. Some of these are transcontinental friends that require taking cakes with me to Washington DC on a plane, a mission that has become more difficult in light of heightened security. Fruitcakes are often regarded as nothing if not menacing. Still others are shipped by mail.

Then there are the fruitcakes that I can deliver in person in hundreds of “drive-by cakings” over the years. The personal contact gives me the opportunity to exchange Christmas greetings. Time permitting, there’s a cup of cider. Other times, it’s a few minutes on the porch or in the entryway as I interrupt somebody’s holiday festivities. But in every case, it is a connection I look forward to, a salute to an earlier era.

Connection, creation, and fellowship. From Thanksgiving to New Year, this simple ritual, however idiosyncratic, has become an expression of what makes the holidays and the New Year special for me.

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