Gulf Gourmand

Have yourself a star spangled supper

June 28 - July 5, 2006
Gulf Weekly Have yourself a star spangled supper

The traditions of many generations that are passed down through the ages are usually the ones we celebrate the most and for America the 4th of July is a massive institution as well as being a huge earner and a holiday for most.

The signing of the declaration took place at the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania whilst John Hancock was president.
Having dipped very briefly into the history I thought I’d have a look at the food that should be prepared and consumed on this auspicious day and was thoroughly disappointed to find that pretty much anything goes and there is, as far as I can see, no real dining traditions. Apparently as it’s a holiday for pretty much everyone not related to the hospitality industry there are loads of BBQ’s going on in homes and gatherings of friends tends to mean that laid back party style food and plenty of beer is usually on the menu. I looked long and hard to try and find something a bit more inspiring than BBQ recipes and apple pie for dessert but alas my search seemed to be in vain so I hopped onto a few restaurant websites to see what was offered in the top eateries around the US.
I went first to the French Laundry in California, voted third best restaurant in the world and although the $210 fixed price menu looked outstanding to a “foodie” like me I could find no holiday specials for the 4th. I thought maybe I should lower my expectations a bit so I looked for a large American dining chain to see what wonders they would produce for Independence Day.
So last but not least I went to the good old diner.
Now this is where it started getting a bit more fun. For example I found out that Safeway’s 14th Annual Barbecue Battle will take place on Pennsylvania Avenue, near the Capitol in the heart of Washington, DC.
Each year, tens of thousands of people enjoy the festivities surrounding this competition of barbecue teams and restaurants from around the country, as they battle to win cash and prizes and the title of National Pork BBQ Champion. BUT STILL BBQ’s.
Then I found it, at last after a couple of hours of surfing, one of my favourite American restaurants, Les Halles, in New York, are having a Liberty Festival. Each year they celebrate American and French freedom for 11 days, from America’s Independence Day to France’s Bastille Day. During the Liberty Festival the restaurant features a special menu as well as other festivities. Culminating on Bastille Day, July 14, is a FREE outdoor block party featuring the famous Waiter’s Race in which waiters from across the city and the world show their stripes as they race down the street with a full tray. The winner must cross the finish line without spilling a drop!
No this is more like it and when I delved into the menu I was not disappointed there was nothing prissy about the food and it was all good wholesome fayre with marinated Beef Carpaccio, Crab Avocado and Pink Grapefruit Salad, Roasted all wrapped together with a big helping of nostalgia and patriotic pride.

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