Happy 4th of July! Today Lilia and I had the honor of walking in our hometown parade. The group we walked with was for our school district's dual language program, which Lilia is a student in.
We walked with our group down the crowd filled street waving to friends and watching the fantastic Jesse White Tumblers perform in front of us. We ended up at the park which was set up to commemorate the occasion with carnival rides, live music and delicious foods.
The kids played at the park for awhile and then we headed over to the assortment of bouncy slides and carnival rides. After all that fun, we were definitely ready for some food.
I saw a sign for elotes, which I had never eaten before, but always wanted to try. An elote is the Mexican way of saying grilled corn. Often, this corn is brushed with a lime infused mayonnaise sauce, rolled in crumbly cheese and sprinkled with lime and cayenne pepper.
While in line, this is the chatter that happened in front of us:
Customer: (points at tray of cheese) What's that?
Man serving the corn: Mexican cheese. Go figure. (scoffs) Mexican cheese on an American holiday.
That got me thinking. Am I being un-American by eating this delicious elote? Would my forefathers be rolling over in their graves at the mere sight of me eating crumbly cheese and cayenne pepper?
I wondered, what else could I eat that would make me able to celebrate this holiday like a true American?
Pizza: Oh yeah, I love some pizza. Although we Americans have definitely tweaked this mouthwatering staple enough, I think we all know where it really came from. A country shaped like a boot.
Hamburgers: Some say hamburgers go as far back as the Mongols, who used to stuff raw versions under their horse saddles. Others attribute it to the Hamburg steak, of Hamburg, Germany fame, which made it's way across the ocean and landed on the East Coast.
Hot dogs and Brats: Germany, we meet again! Both sausages originated in the country of cured meats.
Ice cream: This one is tricky. Many cultures as far back as 400 BC have been pouring juices over ice to create the treat. Arabs were one of the first to use milk as an ingredient in their ice cream. In the 14th and 15th centuries the French and Italians were perfecting their own sorbet and ice cream creations, which eventually made their way over to the U.S.
All of these food origins can be debated ad nauseam with everyone sticking to their own stories. The truth is, most of them have immigrant origins and really, isn't that what America is all about? Sure, after many years, Americans add their own spin to them (see: deep dish pizza) and that's okay too.
We'll still be cheering at the fireworks show tonight in our red, white and blue. I might be eating an ice cream or an elote and I'll be savoring the awesomeness of our country in every, delicious bite.