In 1914, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the order making Mother’s Day an official holiday, the celebrations could not have been more low key. People went to church and wrote loving letters to their moms. Before long, the hand-written notes gave way to cards, flowers and presents. What began as a simple and inexpensive way to honor mothers had turned into a splashy commercial bonanza.
Even Anna Jarvis, the woman who originally put the bug in Wilson’s ear, had second thoughts about what had happened to Mother’s Day. She tried to call a halt to some of the excesses, but it was too late. Americans were hooked. If they couldn’t give their moms gifts or take them out for dinner, they telephoned. Bell Atlantic reports Americans rack up more calls on Mother’s Day than any other Sunday in the year.
In the spirit of the original meaning of the day, advertisers now promote the holiday with pictures of apple-cheeked children carrying bowls of cold cereal to their mothers for a once-in-a-year breakfast in bed treat. But we think the occasion calls for something more festive. That’s where our Flourless Chocolate Cake with Strawberries and Cream comes in. The cake is a chocolatey confection that’s a cross between fudge and cake. We like to make it ahead and pop it into the freezer until the big day. It’s great with ice cream, but for Mother’s Day, we go the extra mile and cover it with sweetened whipped cream and fresh strawberries. The combination makes a scrumptious dessert; it might not be what President Wilson and Anna Jarvis had in mind when they started Mother’s Day, but it’s a terrific way to celebrate.
By Jean Kressy, a food writer in Ashburnam, Mass.