Sunday, December 20, 2015

Countdown to Christmas 6 - Blast off!

How do fruitcakes travel?  Stories of fruitcake on the Crusades, battles and pilgrimages as well as a more recent report of a fruitcake being taken up to Mt Everest are not surprising. My own travel story involves Papua New Guinea and my friend, Phil who makes fruitcakes and vacuum seals them to be opened later as a special treat when travelling and working as volunteers on special projects in the PNG highlands.  Not only did the cakes travel well, they were delicious and so welcome as a treat with  a cuppa, - always timed perfectly when homesickness  and fatigue set in after being away from home for  too long. Earlier in this countdown, I discovered that on some airlines fruticake is a banned substance becuase its density confuses scanners.. Phil's fruitcake has never had a problem travelling by plane!
 So much for going to exotic places! This fruitcake  I think has the best travel story - to the moon and back! Disguised in  a space food package, this compressed pineapple fruitcake  was flown on Apollo 11 Space Mission. . As it was not consumed during the mission it was returned to earth and transferred to the National Air and Space Museum from NASA. The food was protected with a 4-ply, laminated film coating. This protected the food from loss of flavour, moisture and oxygen invasion, spoiling and excess crumbling, and was used on both the rehydratable and the bite-sized foods. from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  A typical Apollo menu suggests pineapple fruitcake as a lunch item for the astronauts. 

I am not sure what is the going price for a piece of fruitcake which has been in space, but here is  an auction lot described if you would like to own one.

Unique freeze-dried ‘space food’ from the collection of Apollo 15 commander Dave Scott. The first item, labeled “Corn Chowder,” measures 3.5 x 11 and rests within a sealed pouch to which a nozzle is attached. The label also bears the simple heating instructions; the other is a 4.5 x 3.5 block of four pieces labelled “Pineapple Fruit Cake.” Also included is a sealed skin cleaning towel. Accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Dave Scott stating “I hereby certify that this Apollo Food is from my personal collection.” In fine condition. RRAuction COA. 

There are few foods which can claim to be still edible after outer space travel - is that a positive or negative characteristic of the fruitcake? At least, it has the reputation of not spoiling in extreme conditions. 

Tomorrow - Fruitcake's connections to royalty. 

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