Ah . . . Those Starbucks Holiday Drinks! Peppermint Ain’t My Bag . . .

Bah-Humbug . . . to peppermint flavored anything (except those little mints that do come in handy post-Mexican fiesta)!

Starbucks has three seasonal drinks advertised in store right now: Eggnog Latte, Caramel Brulee Latte, and Peppermint Mocha. I have only myself to blame for dropping $4.15 on the latter. I KNEW that I like next to nothing that is peppermint flavored, but I thought I’d get the Peppermint Mocha for two reasons:

a) It’s been a while since I’ve attempted to play an active role in my Food Blog Challenge 2011. How am I going to spearhead my massive following of people also taking the challenge? (Cue crickets).

b) I wanted to get something a little less fattening than the 15 grams of fat that comes in a tall Eggnog Latte, so I opted to get the Skinny Peppermint Mocha (which was useless because now I’m drinking a beer . . . more calories than fat but . . .)

The Peppermint Mocha was a mistake.

Starbucks describes the drink this way: “Peppermint lovers, rejoice! Espresso, steamed milk, bitter-sweet chocolate and peppermint flavor swirl beneath a layer of classic whipped cream and silky, chocolate curls.” Sounds pretty tempting, right?

No, thanks.

This drink has peppermint syrup and chocolate in it, which may very well sound tempting. However, to a non-peppermint lover, if the chocolate and the espresso do not mask the peppermint, I have discovered, upon my research, that nothing is going to redeem the drink.

I may be the only little holiday soul that feels this way, but I really do not love peppermint. I don’t mind that the flavor of peppermint is nauseatingly ubiquitous at Christmas, and I would actually line my mantel with candy canes if I thought that Baby O wouldn’t spend inordinate amounts of time standing under each one and repeating, “Mine! Mine! Mine!” (She’s two). It’s just the taste of peppermint that I do not prefer. It’s very . . . false . . . to me.

Photo courtesy of D. Robertson

The thing about the drink is that chocolate follows up the entire thing. I’m picky, I imagine. I want to end my coffee with coffee. I was all confused at the end of this cup.

After reaching the bottom of the cup, I proceeded to do some research. Was I a holiday misfit?

Here’s what appeared in my Bing search when I typed in “Peppermint Mocha Reviews”:

–Oh, why bother breaking it down? It was basically a lot of people who are pleased with the drink and very few who aren’t.

I can stand being in the minority . . . on a similar note . . .

Photo courtesy of Maggie Smith

I also found something else:

a Kahlua Peppermint Mocha Review

This review states that “while the peppermint is in the attack and finish of the liqueur, it doesn’t overbear the chocolate notes or leave you saying, “Wow, that’s a lot of peppermint!” Unlike a peppermint schnapps in some cocktail recipes, Kahlúa has definitely found a striking balance in their latest liqueur. You won’t feel like the peppermint owns this Kahlúa recipe just because the name comes first in the label.”

Hot Damn! I do not like the Starbucks drink or peppermint-flavored stuff in general, but maybe I should give this Kahlua number a try. Is it possible that peppermint could grow on me if I just try hard enough?

Shake, shake, shake. Kahlua says, “It is decidedly so.”

Have you had any of these holiday drinks? Do you love the Peppermint Mocha or something else? Chime in.


Scarier? A Pumpkin Head or the Marshmallow Man? Plus! Product Review of TJ’s Pumpkin Ice Cream and an Ice Cream Topping Recipe Inside

When I write a blog, I try to start with an anecdote, a statistic, a joke. Something, for crying out loud. Some days my creek water is running rapidly; some days my creek is modeling cracked dirt and dry weeds. Today is the latter. I considered starting this post with a slightly fabricated story–okay, it would be a big fabrication–that includes me carving an upside-down face on a pumpkin and then cutting a hole in the top and sticking it onto my head. Then, in this asinine scenario, I am running around the kitchen after Baby O. We are having fun and games until things get ugly and she freaks out. A two-year-old freak out: shoulder convulsions, a sudden, high-pitched squeal, an instant look of panic. When I freak her out, I feel awful. In this scene, not only am I about four-ish times her size, I also have a ridiculous, round, orange fruit on my head, and it doesn’t have a stem on it, so what kid wouldn’t get scared, I wonder to myself. Nonetheless I only take it off long enough to give her a hug and to take a deep breath. Then on it goes again.

The whole image is analogous to me seeing a smaller version of (but still four times the size of me) the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from GhostBusters, except I do not believe the M.M. talked (which, I, as a pumpkin, would, of course). Plus we all know that marshmallows are sweeter and softer than pumpkins, so my analogy is flawed because anyone’d be crazy not to want a 500 lb M.M. coming his way (adjust for your own weight as necessary, please). The scariest thing about seeing the M.M. is that I couldn’t just eat him. Everyone knows that marshmallows are yummy, and if I couldn’t rip off M.M.’s leg amd roast it immediately over an open fire, I would most certainly be in a horror flick, much like Baby O in the pumpkin scenario.

Here’s the real point: I decided that telling a lie would be wrong, so I decided not to do it.

Let’s get down to what we’re all here for: pumpkin product reviews AND a (delicious) dessert recipe. I’ve decided to “drop” my reviews a couple of days apart to maintain the suspense and the readability of this blog.

UP FIRST? Pilgrim Joe’s Pumpkin Ice Cream (from Trader Joe’s)

My first reponse? Poser. This ain’t no pumpkin pie.

My second response? Maybe I need to put honey on it. After you read this blog for a while, you’ll figure out that that is my response to everything. Yogurt a little plain today? Pour honey on it. Getting a cough? Pour honey into it. Some wily teenager sasses you? Pour. honey. on. that. kid. immediately. My husband, Matt, says that if you add immediately to the end of sentences, things will get done, and since sass is unacceptable . . .

Honey was the wrong answer, incidentally. It made the ice cream sickeningly sweet. Don’t do this.

Then I saw Matt put granola on his. WHY didn’t I think of that? That was my third response. This was the added jolt the ice cream needed. I liked the ice cream itself: it was creamy and had the pumpkin flavor it promised, with small hints of nutmeg and cinnamon. Another fabulous thing is that it is made completely from ingredients that I can understand and that are natural. The whole time, though, I was expecting pumpkin pie and not getting it, so I think I kept looking for something more.

About a week later, I determined that I was looking at this situation incorrectly. I couldn’t try to replace pumpkin pie with other pumpkin products. My epiphany that pumpkin pie is irreplaceable came to fruition for me during this whole pumpkin-product-tasting fest. Thus I welcomed TJ’s Pumpkin Ice Cream as its own entity.

My fourth response? Judging the ice cream with no direct comparison to pie, I felt that it was good but was still not holding up to what I think an irresistable little bowl of dessert should be . . . until I created the following apple and granola topping to pair with it (yes, a little self-promotion–sickening). After adding this topping, my opinion was seriously affected. I haven’t mentioned this important part, but I really think the ice cream tastes like eggnog, too, but the mix of the cream and the apples and the granola . . . is just an awesome fall dessert.

*To my MS readers, you still don’t have a Trader Joe’s (a small specialty store that buys most of its products directly from suppliers and deals with a number of local vendors), but they are spreading. There is one in Nashville the next time you visit. Also, for my North Carolinian readers, there is a TJ’s in Chapel Hill, Cary and Raleigh.

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream with Honey Apple Slices and Granola Clusters


  • Pumpkin pie ice cream (can attest to Trader Joe’s, but other brands may be worth it?)
  • 2 Nittany apples (or another fresh, sweet variety), peeled, cored, cut into roughly 1/4″ strips
  • 1/2 cup Granola Clusters (cereal or a plastic pouch of granola) (more for lovers of crunch)

To make the honey and brown sugar mix that covers the apple slices:

Using 2 apples makes approximately 6 toppings

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1.5 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice


1. Peel and core your apples. Cut whole apple into fourths and then into approx. 1/4″ strips. **Honestly, I have no corer and don’t want to buy one, so I cut around the core and then cut into slices.

2. Once all apples are sliced, place a small pan on medium heat.

3. Add butter until it melts.

4. Reduce the heat to low and then add honey. Stir slowly for a minute or so until honey and butter are well blended.

5. Add brown sugar and repeat slow stir until well blended.

6. Add remaining ingredients and leave on low heat for approx. one minute.

7. Toss in apple slices to coat.

8. Spoon desired amount of pumpkin pie ice cream into bowl.

9. Add desired amount of apple slices and granola. Feel free to add a dash of cinnamon for color.

Happy cooking! Happy eating!

**By the way, a pumpkin is a fruit. A little delectable is on the way to Karla Lockwood for answering correctly 🙂

Everything has gone pear-shaped! (But not really) Food Adventure Challenge 2011: Installment Two

by Michelle Byrd–A special thanks goes directly to M. Cameron and indirectly to T. Cameron for alerting me to the beauty of an Asian pear.

To go straight to the pear results and a short pear salad recipe, simply scroll to the picture of the three pears.

We’ll get to what I thought about this week’s challenge items–Asian, Bosc and Red Bartlett pears–but first, for those who appreciate historical records of human communication, I have provided for you a small, pear-related excerpt from “The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste” by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams.

Now, my intent is not to make light of the geekiness that is the recording and debating over pears, because I love reading these sorts of exchanges. However, sometimes I lie to myself about my intent.

In the excerpt below, the editors of “The Horticulturist . . .” doubt some pear measurements they’ve received anonymously. The main man they can consult to confirm these measurements is one Mr. William Reid, a lifelong, dedicated horticulturist. I know little to nothing of Mr. Reid except that he was committed to his profession and was published in and consulted for “The Horticulturist . . .”, a 19th-century journal, a number of times.

Duchess D’Angouleme And Sheldon Pears

The annexed is the outline of a Duchess d’Angouleme Pear (Fig. 1) that grew last season in the garden of Thomas R. Thompson, in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, on a standard tree taken from the nursery of Mr. William Reid. It was forwarded to us anonymously, and we consequently felt some doubt about the enormous proportions; but, on application to Mr. Reid, the well-known nurseryman there, we received the following note:

Duchess D'angouleme.

Duchess D’angouleme. http://chestofbooks.com/

Duchess D’Angouleme And Sheldon Pears

Elizabethtown, N. J., Nov. 28,1855. J. Jay Smith, Esq

Dear Sir: The specimen of Duchess d’Angouleme Pear which you refer to, the outlines sent you by Chas. Davis, Junr., of this place, grown by Thos. R. Thompson, of Elizabethtown, is correctly described. The measurement was 15 inches longitudinal circumference, by 13 1/2 inches, as represented. This Pear was brought to my place by the grower, to look at before being eaten. I had heard of this Pear before I saw this specimen, but having so many fine specimens, I took no notice of it until I saw it; I at once thought the size exceeded anything I had ever seen, even putting me, as you observe, in mind of a monstrous specimen I saw at some exhibition, made out of wax. It was very solid and heavy, and, to all appearance, Juicy and perfectly melting; the weight is correct, having been weighed by several scales in town, viz: 1 lb. 12 ozs.

Yours, etc, Wm. Reid [1].

As a follow-up, please imagine picturing Mr. Reid upon his receipt of the letter that you have just read. This addition is completely fictitious and is what I couldn’t dismiss from my mind while reading the above excerpt regarding pears? or pride?

Mr. Reid, dressed in trousers and a sensible sweater, picks up his correspondence from the post office. One gardening glove hangs from his trouser belt loop, just in case. Once home and after drinking several sips of tea, methodically, he begins to sort his mail. Everything has a place. Correspondence from his Aunt Nell goes in one pile. She is doing splendidly and hopes to visit him soon. The journals that publish his work enter another pile. They will be placed alphabetically along his solid, wooden bookshelf. The last thing in the evening’s pile? The Accusation. It arrives in a fairly nondescript envelope but for the return address in the upper left-hand corner. It’s official, to be sure. It’s a letter from “The Horticulturist . . .” that doubts an anonymous mailer’s findings. In Mr. Reid’s zeal in any situation to “set the record straight,” he instantly whips out his pen of fine craftsmanship he uses for just these occasions and then hastily but steadily pushes his pen to paper, drawing his nifty diagram and discussing his findings. For every mention of pear, he capitalizes P. For every mention of the pear in question, he responds with the excitement of someone who has seen Frankenstein.

Oh, how agitated Mr. Reid must’ve been when he’d received the editor’s correspondence that doubted the size of the pear in question. Had Mr. Reid been so inclined to add one more little line, his mood may have established a different course of one phrase as we know it. Instead of the exhausted “How you like dem apples?” we’d use instead, “How you like dem pears?”*

Game on, The Horticulturist!!! (and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste)

*I am aware that the supposed origins of “How you like dem apples?” came way later, if I am to believe Wikipedia. I am disregarding all research where this is concerned so I can make my story end remotely cleverly. How you like dem . . . Oh, nevermind.

Photo courtesy of M. Byrd

On to the verdicts:

Asian pear: I loved this one! It’s like eating an apple but better because when sliced, the pieces are less bulky and mildly sweeter. Some bites had a small buttery aftertaste. This pear even looks like it’d belong in the apple family and is often referenced as an “apple pear” [3]. Hell, you should slice these up and throw them into your next salad or just eat them raw. Yum! See a simple pear salad recipe below. (I hated the skin, but I hate all the pear skins I’ve ever tasted.)

Red Bartlett: I had two of these, an overripe one and another just beginning to ripen. Baby O loved the overripe one–great for her to “toddlerhandle.” Take a look at the picture above if you need evidence. I found the Red Bartlett to be sweeter and softer than the Asian. Of course sweetness, etc. will depend on when you buy the item. Since I prefer crispy, this one came in second. I’d recommend this one for salads, too, to offset the pear’s sweetness a bit. See a simple pear salad recipe below.

BOSC: When I first tasted the BOSC on Wednesday, I found it to be bland and lifeless. I shoved it into a plastic bag and then tossed it into the fridge, thinking I’d try it again in a couple of days. I didn’t have much hope for it. On Friday, I pulled it out and sliced it. Crisper. Sweeter. Better. Still not my favorite.

What should you look for when shopping for one? In general, if you are ready to eat a pear, look for one that has a slight give and then eat within a day or two. The longer you wait, the softer it’ll get. Look for pears with no scarring or bruising. HOWEVER, for the Asian pear, you should buy it when it is firm. Look for a sweet, strong smell (when pear is cold, this factor fades). If you’d like to ripen further, put your pears in a “cool, dark place” [3]. The Asian, unlike many other pears, is intended to be a crispy pear, so don’t wait around for it to soften unless you enjoy rotted pear.

Now, get out there and try something, anything new, Folks! This challenge is rolling and needs you. You know you’ll be at the grocery or a new restaurant anyway this weekend. Come back and share with us 🙂 Happy cooking! Happy eating!

Simple Pear Salad

I love crunch in my salad. If you do, too, here’s a really easy way to use the Asian pear aside from eating it straight up.

Time:   5 minutes      Difficulty:   Super easy    Serves:  2 peopls


  • Approx. 1.5 cups arugula
  • balsamic vinaigrette, enough to provide a good drizzle and light coating on your arugula (I really like Archer Farms’ Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette (which is one of Target’s brands))
  • 1 Asian pear
  • 1/3 cup to 1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • 6-8 black olives , sliced (can buy canned, but I like getting the ones at the olive bar (if the bar looks well-kept))
  • black pepper


1. In a small bowl, lightly drizzle the vinaigrette over your lettuce. Toss until just coated and place on individual plates.

2. Slice your asian pear into very thin wedges. Test out a slice to make sure you have just enough taste but do not have a slice so large that it is clunky in the salad. Apply as many slices to a salad as you’d like.

3. Add cheese crumbles.

4. Slice your olives thinly and add as many as you’d like. *I love olives, but adding too many can overwhelm your pears, so caution.

5. Sprinkle black pepper, to taste.

6. If you’d like to, drizzle more dressing. Taste beforehand, though. To get the true taste of each bite, you do not want your dressing too heavy-handed.

Next week’s new: Ben and Jerry’s Schweddy Balls. It’s a limited supply right now, you know! Hang on, co-workers, you’ll be getting some of this malted milk ball delectable this coming week!


1. “Duchess d’Angouleme and Sheldon Pears.” Stasophere. 17 Sep 2011. 22 Oct 2010. <http://chestofbooks.com/gardening-horticulture/Journal-7/Duchess-D-Angouleme-And-Sheldon-Pears.html>.

2. “Fruit & Vegetable of the Month.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 17 Sep 2011. 2011. <http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/month/asian_pear.html&gt;.

3. “Red Bartlett Pear.” Produce Oasis. 17 Oct 2011. 2011. <http://www.produceoasis.com/Items_folder/Fruits/RedBartlett.html&gt;.

Snacks are in Session! PB and Honey Grahams with Sliced Red Bananas

Hi All,

School’s back in and with that in mind, I have made a nifty snack for you to devour whether you are:

a) throwing your backpack down after a long day of work or learning

b) so sick of revising your lesson plans due to flash flood and snow days that you could scream

c) retired or work outside of the school system and could care less about how the school masses cope

This snack involves the red banana (just use a yellow one if you don’t know nothin’ ’bout no red banana). On August 29th, I gave you guys a poll regarding food you’d either never had or had not eaten within the last six months. To no one’s surprise, perhaps, single-malt whiskey topped the list. I’m still wondering if anyone who voted has ever had it. If not, now’s the time because that poll was the start to the Food Adventure Blog Challenge 2011. Here’s how it’ll work:

  • Every week, I’ll be posting something new that I’ve tried or that I haven’t had in ages. Then I’ll expound upon my experience. I challenge you to take the same risk, large or small, at the grocery store each week. I use the word challenge but of course do not picture you having to fret or sweat. Just have fun with it!
  • When I post, I invite any of you to post those new/worthy/unworthy foods you’ve tried recently. Put your comments right into the comment box. If you have ideas about how to use or cook the food, feel free to post those, too. Don’t stress out about being fancy, unless that creams your Twinkie.

Back to how the red banana as my first challenge food arose . . .

I was roaming around Wegman’s last Friday night and first glimpsed a hefty bunch of yellow baby bananas. Like a nerd who looks forward to spending a Friday night in a seven-mile-away grocery store, I became excited. My right hand reached out to grasp the whole caboodle, but my frugality steered me away from this asinine idea. How different could these bananas taste from the big deal bananas? I then told myself that baby bananas are perfect for Baby O’s toddler hands. Frugality grew crabby then and told me to step off of the baby bananas.

What did my eyes spot next? Oh, yes, they did. Red bananas, and these were fairly small, too. I snatched three of them and tossed them into the grocery cart. Frugality, you can go to hell . . . until we get to the point where I’ll need that second grocery cart. Ridiculous.

Here’s the outcome:

Red bananas taste nutty, for some reason, and are creamier than the yellow banana. Honestly, I force myself to eat most bananas because, unless I’m having an off-the-wall craving for one, I really don’t desire yellow bananas by themselves. I liked this banana better than the yellow banana, though, because of its creaminess. It’s not an expensive product either, which makes it easy for you guys to try. Important note: Not all groceries carry red bananas–careful not to drive yourself . . . nuts . . . looking for these.

PB & Honey Grahams with Sliced Red Bananas

Difficulty: SUPER easy             Great snack that serves up protein, potassium, iron (in fairly small amounts, mind you, but . . .) 


  • regular or honey graham crackers
  • peanut butter (I made the switch and now love Smucker’s Natural PB b/c no preservatives and generally creamier.)
  • red or yellow banana slices
  • honey


1) Spread a layer of peanut butter on your graham, to the degree that you like peanut butter.

2) Cover the peanut butter in banana slices. Don’t worry about perfect banana placement (unless that is your thing).

3) Drizzle honey on top. I suggest you do a light drizzle because if not, your snack will become a big mess. Want more honey? Just eat another graham treat :-).

Don’t forget to take the food bucket list poll! Window closes Monday.

Hi All,

Photo courtesy of Rob Wiltshire, freedigitalphotos.net

I am working on some pizza pinwheels for you and will have your newest post up in no time! Until then, don’t forget to take the food bucket list poll that was posted earlier this week. Once all clicks are in, I plan to help get us started on fulfilling some of our food needs and/or experiments. So far, it seems few of us have had single-malt whiskey in a while (or ever!).

My first bucket list food will be . . . red bananas! I put an exclamation point there, but I am a little trepidatious myself.

Scroll down and look along the right side for “It’s Time to Create Your Food Bucket List! Take the Blog Reader Challenge Poll.” Clicking on this will lead you right to the poll.

If you’ve already taken the poll, allow me to send my appreciation your way.

See ya soon, and thanks for supporting this site!


It’s Time to Create Your Food Bucket List! Take the Blog Reader Challenge Poll.

A Calabash, Photo courtesy of Markuso, freedigitalphotos.com

Are you ready to try new foods with me or revisit old foods you used to love?!? It’ll be sometimes scary, often exciting and always adventurous!

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that I’d never eaten a memorable piece of fruitcake, if I’d eaten one at all. Then, I invited you to eat fruitcake . . . or any other food on the planet for the first time . . . along with me. I welcome you to  revisit old foods you’ve somewhat forgotten as well. Remember snowballs? sour gummy worms? funnel cakes? Of course, I don’t mean to neglect what is good for you, too. Eat it all!

Let’s get this challenge moving in today’s post with none other than a good ol’ poll to get some food possibilities flowing. Just follow the directions on the poll. You can mark as many answers as you wish. Next week, I’ll follow up with the results and a forum for us to share our nostalgic and new food experiences. Have fun! 


Happy cooking! Happy eating!

Is Fruitcake On Your Bucket List? Introducing A Blog Reader Challenge


Is Fruitcake On Your Bucket List?          by Michelle Byrd

Back in 2003, when Sonya Thomas shoved 2.2 kilograms of fruitcake down her gullet in ten minutes, she was justifiably crowned the Fruitcake Champion of Buffalo. The tiny 105 lb. Sonya beat out Eric “Badlands” Booker that year. He blamed his loss on his miscalculation of the amount of coffee he needed to wash down his almighty fruitcake. Only 1/8 of an ounce stood between Thomas and Booker when the ten-minute time limit elapsed (1). Oh, brother! Most people don’t desire to eat one nibble of a god-awful fruitcake, much less 2.2 kilograms, or approximately 4.8 pounds of the stuff. Or do they?

Yep, it's another stock image! Photo courtesy of fotosearch

A small bakery founded in 1896 still well-known for its fruitcakes is Collin Street Bakery (CSB), located in Corsicana, Texas. The bakery’s web site declares that its fruitcake is what “gets all the attention” and that people as famous as Vanna White and Lyle Lovett have ordered from there. I am pretty sure this qualifies as “ooh la la!” name-dropping among the fruitcake set. Even if White and Lovett are no longer “A-list,” their investment in a mound or so of this fruit-laden victual obviously exists as a source of pride and promotion for the company. Every company needs promotion, but let’s get one thing straight: Collin Street is certainly a steady, little contender in the fruitcake game. It produces over one million fruitcakes per year and ships these cakes to over 200 countries (2). This is just one small, 120-employee store, too (3). So, who is eating all of these fruit cakes?

Well, CSB sends upwards 3,000 of these cakes to troops overseas (2). A fruitcake’s ability to keep for up to 26 years in an airtight container makes it a perfect product for this purpose (4). Plus, we know that Mrs. White and Mr. Lovett are in the mix. I do not have statistics on the rest of CSB’s recipients but am left to assume that these people must be genuine fruitcake lovers or genuine pranksters.

Once CSB’s fruitcakes are purchased, is it possible that each and every one is being eaten? Not if you were to look at what happens to some poor fruitcakes come the New Year. Let’s look at the Annual Great Fruitcake Toss in Manitou Springs, Colorado, each January. This event sounds ridiculous but is not complete willy-nilly. There are rules. Cake weight divisions, the 2 lb and the 4 lb, are in place. Want to launch your fruitcake 175 feet towards a target? Okay, that’s one possibility. Want to catch a big fruitcake being launched at you? Done (4). Caution: the density of fruitcake to mahogany ratio is 1:1. Injury may occur (5).

The Toss is an event in which I wouldn’t mind participating, but I’d need to invest in a fruitcake somehow first. I have never had a memorable piece of fruitcake, if I’ve ever had fruitcake at all. I know for certain that I’ve received and thrown out  fruitcake. I am not alone. According to a 2006 report, 47% of people say they’ve done the same (6). The food’s reputation precedes itself. When dealing with a food that has the ability to outdo the lifespan of my pets and my cars, I’d like to think I ain’t gonna touch it. I’ve eaten nastier things, though. Here are some of them: I’ve nibbled on an old Cheeto that I found between the couch cushions. I don’t know how old it was. I’ve eaten lots of crawfish innards and “outtards,” if you know what I mean. Oh, and I’ve eaten off of the $.99 Taco Bell menu past 3 a.m. in the morning. My three years working at a fast food joint tells me there was more than one person on the line that had not washed his hands.

After listing some things I’ve eaten, fruitcake doesn’t sound nearly as atrocious. And, really, it does have its charm. Back in 1994, a local news channel anchor interviewed two older women, both home cooks, Mary Cook and Bessie Selby. Cook and Selby debated over light versus dark fruitcake (6). Throughout the clip, it is clear that these two, sweet ladies were really fond of their recipes; Mrs. Cook clearly took pride in being able to carry on her family’s tradition. I dare you to watch it and not want to try their fruitcakes.

I’ll bet every family can find some sort of fruitcake memory or recipe in its history. If not for taste, maybe fruitcake should carry on for tradition. Baking something out of pure tradition, however, raises this question: “How close to tasting like crap does our grandma’s recipe have to be before we can declare tradition a stupid agenda?” Hey, look at it this way. Even if grandma’s recipe does stink, we are lucky enough to live in the Food Network age. This age allows us to tweak grandma’s stuff with goat cheese or crystallized ginger root until it magically fits our 21st century standards. Hell, let’s just pour a ton of rum or brandy on it, as originally intended. Enough liquor has the potential to cover the taste of roadkill.

Some people blame fruitcake’s bad rap more on comedians than on taste. Johnny Carson once joked, “The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other” (7). Jim Gaffigan commented, “Fruit, good; cake, great; fruitcake, nasty crap” (8). Whatever the reason for its rap, maybe I should try it for the first time or revisit it. I honestly can’t remember which I’d be doing, and it’d only be fair to this article.

Collin Street Bakery swears by its fruitcake, describing it as “unexpectedly delicious” and thus acknowledging that not all versions are. I’ll put it on my bucket list. Wanna try, too? If you can’t bear fruitcake, take a look at the endless possibilities that you’ve yet to try or want to try again: Stilton cheese, purple figs, bubble tea, gazpacho, chocolate profiteroles. Life is pretty awesome even with a little bit of new. You don’t need to make it high-fat or low-fat, just different or nostalgic. Neither your kid nor your spouse nor your best friend has to eat it with you. They can, but it can also be just you and the food. Check to see if your food of choice raises your anxiety level a little. Check to see if it evokes any response. If you feel something when you’re eating it, you’re living. Enjoy the moment and, for goodness sake, don’t shovel it into your face, Sonya Thomas-style. Save that kind of energy for your championship title.

NEXT POST: READER CHALLENGE POLL: Mark ALL of the following that you have never had or have not had within the last year . . . Keep an eye out for it and join me in the challenge to try at least one new food item (not recipe, necessarily) each week. We can share our highs and lows.

If you have any further comment about this article, fruitcake, trying new foods, etc., I’d love to hear from you. If you want to stick up for fruitcake, join its Facebook page.