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food memories

Holidays and Food Memories: A Perfect Food and Fun Combo

food memories

Food Traditions Bring Taste To Holiday Fun

We are at my brother’s home in Pennsylvania to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, America’s 239th birthday. My brother puts out the American flag, we watch fireworks and relax. But we also eat. And in keeping with our July 4th food traditions, our favorite yearly dishes will be highlighted as the tasty part of this fun party.

What are your 4th of July food traditions? Do you barbecue hot dogs and hamburgers and bring out grandma’s potato salad? Share them with me! 

Food Memories

One of the best combinations on a special holiday is the food memories and the fun.

Today is America’s birthday, but it is also the birthday of some American citizens (Happy Birthday if this is your special day!) My dad’s birthday is today, and if he was alive he would have celebrated his 71st year (Happy Birthday Dad). One of his favorite foods he loved to have on his birthday was Hot Peppered Shrimp. And in keeping with food traditions and food memories, this spicy and yummy dish will be part of today’s first course.

food memories

This dish is chock full rich in butter and spicy black pepper and is best served super hot to a large crowd. My dad used to make this dish for us, now my mom takes over the role. If you want to try your own version, here is a similar recipe for Spicy Shrimp from “The Pioneer Woman Cooks.”

Our Fourth of July food memories wouldn’t be the same without an Italian food touch. New Jersey has one of the largest population of Italian Americans in the country, with more than 1.5 million and 18% of Italians living in New Jersey. Even if our family is not Italian (except for my wonderful sister-in-law), our food traditions often revolve around Italian dishes. On our table next to the hot peppered shrimp sits the mozzarella, basil and tomato dish.

food memories

Keeping with the foodie fun, out comes the Mexican influence with guacamole and chips and vegetables to dip. What would the Fourth of July be without this simple buttery avocado dip? (Not the same). Guacamole is made from ripe avocados, and I recommend Hass brand because these have the most smooth and buttery taste. Not only is guacamole delicious, but avocados are a power food, especially for children and teenagers! So, there is no guilt to eat those avocados, especially when they are blended to a simple guacamole. Want to know more about health benefits of avocados? Here is why you should ‘Love One Today‘ (my simple guacamole recipe is at the end).

food memories

After we finish the first food course (oh la la!) then out comes the grill to cook some burgers and hot dogs. This BBQ part is typically part of the American food culture, especially on the July 4th holiday. This barbecue tradition is not a part of the French food culture yet (where we live 10 months during the year), but the hamburger trend is taking over in France. Food traditions are a sacred part of making your food memories fun, and our global world means that different food cultures and recipes are slipping into other country’s habits and influencing food trends.

When you leave your mother country, your food identity becomes even more important

As I write this article, I think about the lunch I ate here at my brother’s place. Simple but symbolically important, to me. I ate three (yes) big portions of my mom’s pasta tuna salad, enjoyed on the summer colored plastic dishes that I equate with outside dining here, enjoying a meal next to the pool.

I cannot have my mom’s tuna pasta salad over in France because even if I try to imitate her style, this dish doesn’t (ever!) taste the same.  Just ask my kids who take a bite of my version and tell me, “This doesn’t taste as good as Grammie’s food.”

food memories

Food cultures from around the world

America is a melting pot of cultures and if you are like me, your food traditions are a mix of different influences and the typical American cuisine. But keeping an open mind we can learn something by embracing the history of other food cultures such as this article states, “What Americans Can Learn From Other Food Cultures.”

And living overseas is also an opportunity to bring new food memories into the holiday celebrations. I love the classic French food traditions which I have learned to embrace and adore. What would Christmas be without oysters and Champagne? (not the same). And if we emigrated back to America, what would that first Christmas be like sans les huites et Champagne? (not the same).

What food traditions have you picked up from places you have lived in or from parents that have emigrated from other countries? My grandmother came to America when she was 12 years-old and even though she was young, she learned to cook the traditional dishes from her native country, several that my mom now cooks, (like my Grandmother’s hand squeezed cucumber salad-a very Eastern European dish).

Happy food memory July 4th holiday celebration

Today will be a wonderful day, the perfect combination of food memories and fun. I hope that my kids and my nephews here will continue to pass on the food traditions that they treasure on holiday celebrations. The next celebration is my birthday next month and for the last five years we have enjoyed a big lobster dinner. I use the same “Boiled Lobster from Boston” recipe every year. Lobster has been in abundance and affordable for the last five years, I hope I can pick up a dozen or so of this seafood delicacy.

Just looking at this picture is making me hungry for more food memories!

food memories

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Warmly, Mary

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