Fruitcake vol. 2: the Texas German language
>I dunno..fruitcake, whisky, films............what a lovely bunch!
>*But* I didn't think americans could make fruitcake...is it black?
Almost. Dark brown, I'd call it.
In the first half of the 19th Century, Prinz Karl Solms von Braunfels
bought a large tract of land along the Brazos River in Texas, from
the Mexican government, and brought a lot of German settlers to his
new colony. They established the towns of New Braunfels,
Fredericksburg, Schwertner, and a lot of small farming
communities. Unfortunately, the Mexicans forgot to mention that they
had not consulted with the indigenous people, the Commanche Indians,
so for many years it was said that the Brazos ran red with German
blood. After the founding of the Republic of Texas and the Texas
Rangers, which was not the state police force it now is, but a small
army of frontiersmen, with blockhouse forts scattered up and down the
rivers and trails, to guard commerce and defend the settlements
against Indians and outlaw bands, the colony flourished, and began to
produce its own version of the German language, music and literature.
Schools were taught in German, church services were in German, and so
much business was conducted in German that it was hard for anyone to
get along in large areas of Central Texas without speaking that
language. This culture continued to grow for about three quarters of
Then, in 1914-18, during the First World War, a newly passed law
forbade the use of the German language in public gatherings of more
than a few people, and the publication of newspapers, magazines or
books. That meant the schools also had to switch to English. It was
later repealed, but the damage had already been done. I remember my
father telling me about a German woman who complained to him about
the situation at the Lutheran Church, where the minister was trying
to conduct services in English. She told him that it was ridiculous,
because after all, Jesus was himself a German. Daddy said, "What?"
(In German, of course.)
(This is hard to do in English, and my German is too rusty these
days, but I'll try to fake it.)
She replied, "Well of course. Who but a German could have said "Mein
Gott, warum hast du mich verlassen?" **
(((**"My God, why hast thou abandoned me?")))
Well, it's funnier if you say it in German all the way through, but
that little phrase seems to carry much more feeling in German than in
English, which I think was the point she was making. I think.
What this has to do with fruitcake is that the Texas German language
died out during the following several generations, but Texas German
cooking survived ... and one of the recipes that survived was
fruitcake ... but it is not exactly like any fruitcake I ever ate in
Germany or anywhere else. It is special.