Jul 04


The 4th of July; parades, picnics, food, bands, speeches, food, carnivals, food….food? well of course food. When you think about it, what would any celebration be without food. Family favorites, grandma’s specialties, burgers, brats, hot dogs, chicken, ribs and brisket on the grill. Salads of every  flavor and texture,

When I was a kid, we would go to my Uncle’s cottage on Silver Lake in Wisconsin.  During the course of the day there would be Aunts and Uncles showing up with gaggles of cousins to play with. I was pretty young but I remember the men would play horseshoes, the boys would always have a ball game of some sort going on, the volleyball net was set and ready for a match and there was always a half a dozen Frisbee’s sailing through the air.

What would I be doing? Getting fished out of the lake by dad. Every single year I fell into the lake. Usually it was because I was walking along the pier looking at the fish or frogs or whatever and KERPLUNK! there I was in the lake yet again.

Once I was dried off and my clothes were changed, it was time for food, and oh the food there was. The grills were loaded with burgers, hot dogs, brats and chicken, of course the men were manning those grills making sure everything was done perfectly and each one bragging on how their technique was better than the next.

The ladies would start to bring out the Tupperware bowls of anything and everything, hot and cold, sweet and savory. We are a people of the potluck frame of mind so even in the middle of summer, hot dishes were the norm.  You could always count on there being at least 6 different variations of deviled eggs and as many or more Jello treats. Oh the Jello dishes, molds, layers, creamed, fruited, nutted even marshmallowed and of course Knox Blox ( today the kids call them Jigglers ).

Those ladies would all hover nearby watching to make sure no serving bowl ever got more than half full before dashing into the cottage to get more. You could almost see their ears swiveling to catch a comment or compliment on their contribution to the meal.

My brother and I couldn’t wait until the evening and the highly anticipated fireworks both at home and show at the fairgrounds. In our front yard we would have sparklers that we waved around and wrote our names in the air with those glittery, glowing sticks, those little black charcoal pellets that; when lit became snakes,  (and dad griped for weeks after because they left that black stain on the concrete driveway ), the all to famous Floral Fountain, which sprayed the different color sparks into the sky, cherry bomb’s, bottle rockets and so many other brightly colored, exploding surprises. Mom always managed to have several packets of firecrackers which scared the hell out of me.

Once it was dark enough, we’d get in our pajamas and pile into the car. We’d head towards the fairgrounds but never actually went there. Dad ( and lots of other smart dad’s ) always had several places that we could park and see the whole show. I always wondered why we couldn’t go to the fairgrounds and be with the other spectators, mom said it was because it was easier to stay away and not have to fight traffic. As I got older and did go see them with my friends and later boyfriend, I realized it really wasn’t as much fun because the smoke that rose from those fireworks made it difficult to enjoy.

The celebrations changed as I got older and the fun went away with the disappearance of the carnivals and charcoal snakes at home. The family picnic was replaced by standing around a beer tent listening to eclectic folk music being plinked out.

The food, while it started coming  from food trucks sold a variety of tasty morsels from the basic burgers to egg rolls, and the always desired deep fried cheese curds and French fries. You could get the elephant ears, corn dogs, candy apples, caramel apples, cotton candy, and the rest of the fair fare. But local business’ were entering the scene with pizza, sandwiches, the afore mentioned egg rolls.

Yes, times changed, but one thing always remains the same, the food and while it may alter during the changing times, it is still a prominent part of celebrations. So go to the picnic, take something from your childhood and while you are chatting with old Aunt Margaret and Uncle Buster, make them smile with a memory of a 4th of July of past. Make sure she knows that her 3 bean salad and Uncle Buster’s hamburgers were better than anyone else’s and you would love to have a taste of them once again.

Go Ahead…. ” Just Try It! ”

Happy 4th of July my foodie friends!!!!!