For everything there is a season, and now, solidly tucked into October, it is time to go to the next phase of preparation for my fruitcake bouboulettes. Weeks ago, I chopped figs, dried apricots, candied ginger chunks, raisins, dried cherries, dates, cranberries and currants, and started soaking them in liquor.
Every few days I turned the bottom fruit to the top. I breathe in the complex wafts of fruit, rum and brandy and think that this scent has been the same for generations and feel connected to an endless line of people before me who have done this same work in preparation for celebration.
Today I'm going to candy orange and lemon peels to add to my drunken fruit. Once you get over the annoyance that you boil and toss the water from the cut peels three times before you start to candy, its not really a difficult process. After they are candied and dried for about fifteen hours, I'll chop them and throw them in along with glaceed cherries I've ordered from Switzerland. Then toasted nuts, a dark batter and a bake in the oven. My favorite part is next- packing them in layers of cheesecloth sprinkled in brandy to allow the flavors to meld and mellow. I'll keep the cloth damp until the bouboulettes are ready to go out the door. At each point in the process, I 'm reminded of the ancient-ness of it all and that without the effort, the end result would lack the complex flavor that you can only get with care and the assembly of the most luxurious ingredients. This is how we're meant to celebrate I think: giving of the best of ourselves and the land, and eating the results with consciousness and appreciation.