The Fox Sisters
Gourmand, Vanilla, Spiced
Spiced cardamom cake with orange zest and candied red currants, caramel cream, dragon’s blood resin, and flecks of vanilla bean.
On one dreary spring day on the eve of April Fools, two young girls inadvertently started one of the greatest movements of the 19th century. The unlikely founders were frightened when they heard rapping on their bedroom wall at night, and reported the phenomenon to their mother. Maggie, Kate, their mother Margaret, and a neighbor organized a séance to contact the spirit in their house. Three, five, and then thirty-three raps on the table communicated the spirit’s past and surprising knowledge of people in the room.
In fear of the spirit that seemed drawn to her daughters, Margaret sent Maggie and Kate to live with their eldest sister in Rochester. Rumors of the Fox sisters’ ability quickly spread through the city. Rochester was unique in that it had been the site of a number of spiritual movements, and the city was primed to accept the sensational story of the two girls and the spirits they could speak to. Hundreds of people were soon gathering in halls across New York to hear the mysterious rapping and view the glimpse of life after death the Fox sisters promised. The sisters were charming and believable in their youth, and countless people tried but failed to debunk their act.
They toured for decades and fanned the flames of Spiritualism in every corner of America that they visited.
Forty years after they had first heard the spirit in their small farmhouse, converted Catholic Maggie Fox recanted their experiences and performances as a fraud, keeping a promise to her late husband to abandon Spiritualism forever. She stated that she and her sister had first attached an apple to their toes on a string below the floorboard, and later cracked and popped their joints to create the rapping of the spirits.
Maggie took back her confession only a year later, but the damage was done. The improbable pair that had started the entire Spiritualism movement were forever discredited, and the movement faded with their legacy.