Christmas cakes are only good for target practice in the USA

by Joanne Black / 10 December, 2017

Kiwi Christmas cake. Photo/Food To Love

Walking with an American friend to the local farmers’ market, I mentioned that my husband was at home baking biscuits and two Christmas cakes. “What is a Christmas cake?” she asked, reminding me that Americans are from Venus and the rest of the Western world is from Mars.

I explained that it was a moist, dense, dark cake made with dried fruit. “Oh, I know what they are,” she said. “There’s a local radio station that does a ballistics test on Christmas cakes each year. They fire at them to see how long they take to come apart.”

Well, only in America, I guess, would food testing involve taking your Smith & Wesson down to the local shooting range, or maybe just out to the backyard depending on which state you live in, and shooting at a cake. It does make New Zealand foodie judges, who compare the shortness and sweetness of pastry on Christmas mince pies merely by eating them, seem a bit wet.

I presume you test the ballistic resistance of a Christmas cake by firing at it with weapons of different calibre and from various distances to see whether the bullet lodges in the cake or passes through it, and whether the cake holds together.

In defence of the Americans – and God knows they need defending right now – I do not think that shooting at Christmas cakes is a normal activity. It is not as though the average American family put up their Christmas tree, then pile into the pickup to drive to the range and shoot at a cake. The words “radio station” were the red light in my friend’s account. But then, judging from her response, Christmas cakes are not “normal”, either. Sometimes I feel as though I could live here for 30 years and still not have figured it out.

This article was first published in the November 4, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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