The Fourth of July and Why I Like It

Dan, Earl, and Gracie at the Fourth of July dinner

Dan, Earl, and Gracie at the Fourth of July dinner by Ms. Jen with her Nokia N8.

Yesterday, I tweeted:

Happy Fourth of July! Of all the holidays, this is my favorite to cook for, am about to start making food for the BBQ this evening. ;o)

This is absolutely true but also untrue. Absolutely true because it is a joy to cook a big meal for friends and family on the Fourth of July, as there are very few expectations that folks have of the day other than having fun and watching fireworks. Untrue, in that the food that is usually prepared for the Fourth is not particularly challenging for a cook.
Yes, Thanksgiving & Christmas provide a much meatier planning, preparing and cooking challenge for a cook to not only make the meal memorable, but also tasty and a not the same old same old. I truly enjoy thinking about, planning, and executing all the permutations of taste and possibility for those two holiday meals.
But, sh*t! Christmas and Thanksgiving come with so much family expectation, someone is always stressed out and on the verge of some family drama or another. And as the cook, I try not to absorb the waves of tumult, keep my head down and on task, but the waves none the less spoil the joy to some degree.
As a child, my memories of Fourth of July were of the few times that my Mom took joy in cooking, where she got inventive because she was out of the daily routine and she had a few days to think up and execute a menu. My memories of Fourth of July food were not hamburgers, BBQ and extended family, but of fried chicken, homemade potato salad, friends, and peach ice cream made in the hand cranked, salt outer container filled ice cream maker.
Fast forward to Fourth of July 2011, the Farmer’s Market at the Long Beach Marina SE is bursting with the last of the spring fruits and the first of the summer fruits and vegetables. The seasonal possibilities are a delight. On Sunday evening, Erika, Thomas, Earl and I feasted on soft shell crab, two kinds of salad, and a first of the season peach mildly frozen homemade yogurt dessert. Yesterday for the actual Fourth, I made old fashioned potato salad, a big bowl of med-inspired rice pasta salad, and ratatouille of Farmer’s Market summer vegetables on top of fish and steak. Tonight, my Mom and I are going to experiment with making fresh fruit ice (rice milk) cream.
All made with joy, eaten with wine & laughter, and very little pathos. Thankfully.
Fourth of July, I love you.