"Would you like some patriotic vegan pancakes?" I asked my roommate this morning. I was standing in my favorite spot in our kitchen, at the stove, with my hand on a frying pan waiting for her to reply.
"That has to be the strangest, but best question I've ever been asked on the 4th of July," D answered.
Well, yes. It was a little strange to be celebrating this great nation with pancakes made from coconut milk that were most likely not American coconuts. In an ideal world where Ron Swanson is president, I'd be eating ALL the eggs and bacon I have. But, today is shaping up to be a strange day.For starters, I live in Philadelphia, a city often dubbed the birthplace of America. Half a million people will be swarming the city to scope out Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, walk the cobblestone streets of Ben Franklin's old stomping grounds, and listen for the Liberty Bell ringing out in celebration. Common sense would suggest I don some red white and blue, head down to Old City and join them.
The fourth of July has always meant going down to my dad's boat on the Rhode Island/Connecticut border, boiling lobsters, eating flag cake (rectangle angel food cake with cool whip, strawberries and blueberries), tying a line of ten boats together at Napatree Point beach and spending the day riding the waves on a boogie board. Being surrounded by concrete and cheesesteak doesn't hold the same appeal as the salty spray of the Atlantic and a pound of buttery steamers, caught that same morning.
I don't make a big deal about the Fourth of July since moving to PA. In fact, it makes me feel a little lonely. I spent it in Galway two years ago, where the school I was at made us sausages instead of hot dogs and fed us a slew of other interesting and just-off interpretations of American cookout food. Last year, I was in the midst of an incredibly hectic summer and took no shame in vegging out all day watching Kitchen Nightmares, though, had I had the time, I would have much rather made the 4 hour trek home to eat burgers with my family and swim in my sister's pool.
This year, I'm not holing myself up in my apartment to watch bad television. Instead, I'm going to be in the midst of the half million people as they invade the Ben Franklin Parkway for a free concert from The Roots, Joe Jonas, Queen Latifah and Darryl Hall. I've been overwhelmed with ideas and opportunities lately, as I'm trying to figure out my relationship to food and if that will mean anything for a future pursuit or if it will simply remain a hobby. So, as part of that, I'll be working at a food truck, testing the waters, getting to meet my fine Philadelphian neighbors and hopefully not sweating my face off. Happy Birthday, America...that'll be $4.50.