As Anglophiles and wannabe pastry chefs are aware, preparation for the Royal Christmas Cake begins on Guy Fawkes Day. Once they have burnt the effigy of “the Guido,” the Brits do their level best to set back culinary artistry several decades with the “Royal Christmas Cake.” I have written often about this British assault on the palate, but sadly my wife doesn’t agree. As a minor concession, she has agreed to soak the currants in whiskey rather than my fine brandy, but now that the marzipan has been hand-delivered by a recent courier from London this exercise in culinary futility is in full-flow.
Now, I don’t plan to bite the hand that feeds me, but I do intend to read what appears to be a fascinating book that was brought to my attention recently by Lord Cheseline of Maiden Lot: The Men Who Lost America, written by Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy. Sadly, I missed his talk in Chestertown, Maryland, but like most “folks” today, I relish true stories of gross incompetence rather than inspired leadership. Found below is an excerpt from The Men Who Lost America:
The loss of America was a stunning and unexpected defeat for the powerful British Empire. Common wisdom has held that incompetent military commanders and political leaders in Britain must have been to blame, but were they? This intriguing book makes a different argument. Weaving together the personal stories of ten prominent men who directed the British dimension of the war, historian Andrew O’Shaughnessy dispels the incompetence myth and uncovers the real reasons that rebellious colonials were able to achieve their surprising victory.
While I will no doubt be reading O’Shaughnessy’s ode to failure this Christmas while others wax poetic about the virtues of the Royal Christmas cake, I do hope that parents will avoid feeding this sugar-laden creation to young children before their naps. It is wise to avoid sugar highs!