Time is nigh to study the most easily identified (or 2nd or so, next to milk and cookies) sweetie mcpetey for the holidays: FURITCAKE.
As early as Roman times, fruits were mixed into sweet dough and baked. But with the advent of cheaper sugar, a preservative of fruits, the ideas of plums and cherries in December became too confectious to pass up. I mean, apart from preserves, you didn’t used to get a good chewy mouth-fructing when the snow piled high. Your insulin missed the rush. It was exciting to get it during dark days.
Today we have world-wide shipping, and freeze drying, and of course tons of canning. When people born around 1900 later became grandmothers they were still churning sugared-fruit laden wheat treats out like they remembered their moms bestowing upon their greedy tongues in days of yore gone by. Then the comedians, like Johnny Carson, started sarcastically to point out that we don’t appreciate tradition, ’cause now: Twinkies and Fudgey Whale cakes and crap like that.
I’m not saying you have to try it or like it, i’m saying–when’s the last time you made one or ate a slice of actual home-made, lovingly crafted fruit cake?
So–a few days on the f. sugarbomb.
Let’s start with the idea of the old lady and her tradition.
“Mrs. O’Leary’s Fruitcake” is brought to you by Ruby Murray, a jewel of the Emerald Isle from the 1950s. It’s detailed, improbable, and quite Irish–an old cabaret tale. Pat Harrington does this more deadpan, less lilting.
“Mrs. Hooligan’s Christmas Cake” becomes a crowd-pleasing folk happening for The Spinners. Not quite the same song–more threat of death by cake here. And more sibilant sound effects (spitting). The incomprehensibly accented version is from Clinton Ford. The Charles Peake music hall overly serious version claims provenance from Finnegan’s Wake.
Actually it’s a variant of the original “Miss Fogarty’s Christmas Cake,” which inspired James Joyce sommat. Willy Brady relates this without smirk. Tommy Mulvihill quicksteps this business like he wants to jig away the calories. Mick Moloney slows this down as if chewing his way through an entire slice. Steel Clover snarks it up making me wonder if this is what Irish sounds like with a Bronx accent. Stan Ransom swallows the lyrics in favor of featuring a fine mandolin backing. Seamus Kennedy returns us to standard basso monotone. Brass Farthing‘s is flat yet lively, Golden Bough‘s is tinny yet earnest, Danaher Cloud‘s is spastic, yet authentic, and The Poxy Boggards‘ is multimedia overdone. Altogether inedible, nae? Surely you will not listen to all these. So, settle for the brand you know: The Irish Rovers party through this high disrespect with brave militaristic merriment. They make Irish sound musical. And their instrumental outro is just madness.