Independence Day

First, a quick reminder that you can still enter to win an advance copy of Sparkers. I’m closing entries tonight at midnight, Pacific time.

Last Friday was the first 4th of July I celebrated away from home in a long time. At home, my Independence Day traditions (parade in the morning, multi-family picnic at midday, fireworks in the evening) are so set in stone that each year the photos I take are practically identical to the ones I took the previous year. I wanted to observe as many of my traditions as I could in California this year, as well as introduce my Singaporean roommate to the trappings of the American national holiday. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to any fireworks, but otherwise I think we did pretty well.

First thing in the morning, we headed out to watch the Santa Monica 4th of July parade, which was inexplicably Star Wars-themed. There were antique cars and local politicians and the Santa Monica Youth Orchestra playing–what else?–the music from Star Wars on a flatbed truck. But it didn’t measure up to my hometown parade; there were no bagpipers or Morris dancers.

After the parade, we went grocery shopping because we finally had a functional fridge in our new apartment. It would’ve been very sad if that fridge hadn’t arrived in time for the 4th because then I wouldn’t have been able to make most of my planned dishes. Luckily, it did, but it meant we did all our shopping on the holiday itself. As it turns out, the 4th of July isn’t the best day to try to buy hotdog buns.

The crowning culinary achievement of the day was this flag cake. It was surprisingly tasty. I made a simple yellow cake using a recipe I’d never tried before, and I didn’t have particularly high expectations since I’m not much of a sheet cake person, but it was quite a good cake.

Flag Cake

American flag cake

Before eating cake, we had a dinner of bratwurst, potato salad, watermelon, and corn on the cob. Since it was very hot in our apartment, we picnicked on our little balcony overlooking the alley. We laid out sheets of the Opelika Observer, a local Alabama newspaper the previous tenant subscribed to, to sit on. If you look closely at the text under the bratwurst in the picture below, you can read a rather amusing paragraph from someone’s column: “Lard. I grew up with lard. My grandmother bought in in buckets and fried everything fryable in it–from chicken to peach pies.” Well, then.

4th of July Meal

4th of July dinner

2 thoughts on “Independence Day

  1. Peach pie fried in lard doesn’t sound so bad. Somewhere I read that Hungarians use a large amount of lard in their cooking. I wouldn’t say it was obvious in the restaurant food that we ate while in Budapest but the menus seemed extremely meat-oriented. At our b&b, the breakfast included yoghurt, cereal, and a plate of ham/sliced sausage/hard-boiled eggs, and tomatoes. The tomatoes were good; the bread was mediocre. Central Europe was beautiful and interesting but I can’t really praise the cuisine.

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