It’s New Years Eve in managed isolation, NZ, a serious endeavor to keep a country safe. At home things are crazy as usual, with fascists wanting to deny voting by our citizens.
I’m eating some figgy pudding. Black gooey substance with butter, figs, raisins, some alcohol, nutmeg, cloves, orange peel. Though it’s summer here, the Scottish heritage shines through. My family always had some kind of fruitcake, often soaked in rum, which we teenagers thought was great, subversive, and funny. My Great cousin Lillian liked to especially soak her fruitcake in alot of rum and truly, no bacterium would ever grow in this substrate. It lasted for months. I loved her spunk though she lived a sad life.
We would have the ultimate dysfunctional holidays at our home in the capital of Kentucky, with too many family dynamics to even describe. My dad was the first child to go to college and med school, come back and have a beautiful home, after generations of pioneers and farmers.
The great aunts and cousins who were old in the 1960s would all create beautiful deserts. Jam cake with caramel icing, some kind of fluffy orange cake. Their men had all died, but the old ladies on the velvet couch were sweet, wise, observant, and had been hushed. Even my aunt Doris was unable say much, living with a womanizer and crook of a husband, but she obviously loved us in her own way. She picked up my baby daughter like she was a gift and wonder. Aunt Birdie just watched but never said. Her glances were full of meaning. Granny Hazel was critical, not able to love us. Aunt Lillian was intoxicated and cursing. Mom was quiet in her beautiful home, full of secrets of a lost daughter, hating the town.
I wonder about the other ancestors who made preserved fruit cakes in the winter in eastern Kentucky as farmers, pioneers, descendents of Scots and Irish emigrants who left to build new homes in the mountains. They may not have had the right spices or may have soaked the cake in moonshine or other homemade spirits. They could put up raisins from grapevines, maybe use dried apples, maybe some dried wild berries. Oranges were scarce. They put meat in their mince, which they did have. They may have used corn meal instead of what flour. I think about apple stack cake, made with fruit jam and dried apples.
Here in New Zealand are many folk of Scots and Irish descent, as well as a diversity of other places. The diaspora has survived. I feel at home.
Hurrah for figgy pudding, mincemeat, and fruit cake soaked in too much rum, with cussing included!