Markus' Travel and International Living Blog

Markus is an enthusiastic traveler, who lives in Houston, TX (USA) most of the time, but also spends some time in Saalfelden, near Salzburg (Austria). He is fascinated by travel and also by his experiences gathered by living in two different countries and continents.

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Monday, July 04, 2005
4th Of July Celebrations

It's the 4th of July! I probably do not have to point out to you that this is one of the world's most famous non-religious holidays: The American Independence Day (and also the Independence Day of Rwanda, although I'd be surprised if that contributed to the fame...). So, what does one do on Independence Day? I am not sure. Light fireworks in the evening, I guess, if you are in an area where that's allowed. But what does one do to really celebrate the entire day?

Personally, I am not US-born (I am originally from Austria, as you probably know if you read this blog regularly), so on the 4th of July, I make an effort to become a bit more American. I am not entirely sure how to do that, but a proverb says (loosely translated) "you are what you eat", so that's what I am trying to do: I try to eat very American on the 4th of July. But then again, what is that exactly? Some people tell me pork roast is very American, but then that would also be very Austrian, plus we already have a traditional pork roast on Thanksgiving (don't ask). Steak is another option, but in Texas, it is hard enough to get into a steak place on any weekend, let alone the 4th of July. Plus, the US has good steak, no doubt, but that is true for many South American countries as well as other places as well. No, to me, there is one dish that is more American than any other: Burgers!

So the tradition we have started several years ago is to undertake a culinary expedition to the best known fast food joints and buy a burger (super-sized only if asked... which surprisingly never happened so far). This year, we (or "I" since Ellen never participates since she is "vaguely vegetarian" and only gets ice cream) went to McDonalds, Burger King, and (new entry this year) Sonic. This gotta do to make me feel a little more like a native. We did drop Wendy's and Jack in the Box off the list this year, since I really didn't feel so good after last year's feast. (The fact that I practically never eat fast food burgers probably doesn't make my stomach more agreeable with this event...).

I wonder whether I should take this concept a bit further and celebrate other country's national holidays the same way. I am not sure I could honor all countries this way, after all, there are about 190 countries total (exact number depending on whom you ask...). This would not even give me a day after each one to recover. But maybe I can start out with a limited list:

  • Australia Day on the 26th of January: Crocodile, ostriches, and kangaroo tails, I guess. Not my favorite, but you gotta make sacrifices for international friendship...
  • Greece's Independence Day is on March 25th: Souvlaki (the small kind) and Ouzo while dancing sirtaki all night.
  • Italy's Republic Day is on June 2nd: A special treat. We will start out with a beef carpaccio appetizer. Then, we will have some pasta and pizza as the main dish. Gelatti as the dessert of course, and finally, a grappa just for good health.
  • Denmark has their Constitution Day on June 5th: Lapskaus? Is that even Danish? Not sure how much I could eat of that...
  • I am not certain about Sweden. Although they have a "National Cinnamon Bun Day" and a "Waffle Day". If push comes to shove, I will adopt one of these. I think we'd take their Flag Day on June 6th and eat Reindeer (which is better than you might think it is...shiny nose and all). I hope I feel OK after the Lapskaus the previous day...
  • The Brits celebrate the Queen's Birthday on the second saturday in June (which is odd for a birthday... especially since here real birthday is April the 21st): This one is scary. Pots of Irish Stew and a Spotted Dick for dessert? Maybe I'll settle for watching Monty Python all day instead...
  • Canada Day on July 1st: Hmmm... are polar bears eatable? If not, we'll have to drink a keg of Labatte Blue.
  • France's Bastille Day on July 14th: 18 course meal that ends with a fantastic cheese plate. This may possibly take us into May9th...
  • Belgium's National Day on July 21st: Pancakes?
  • Switzerland's National Day is August 1st: Cheese Fondue of course. Be careful not to drop your bread in the pot. I hear the penalty for that is to be thrown into lake Geneva with a lead weight tied around your neck. And I always thought the Swiss were reasonable people...
  • India's Independence Day on August 15th: Naan and vindaloo chicken like no tomorrow
  • Indonesia's National Day on August 17th: We will consume a Reistaafel for 18 people (even though the menu will claim it is for 2)
  • Hungary's Constitution Day on August 20th: Gulasch
  • Brazil's Independence Day on September the 7th: Fogo de Chao for 8 hours straight! (My personal favorite)
  • Mexico's Independence Day is on the 16th of September: Fajita's and Tequila!
  • China's National Day on the 2nd of October (or is it the 1st of October? If we are off, we'll just claim its because we are across the international date-line): I'll volunteer to eat 3 or 4 Peking Ducks.
  • Germany's Unity Day on October 3rd: Not sure what to do here. Eisbein (boiled pork leg)? I don't think so. Weisswuerste perhaps. Or maybe we will take some Austrian dish - like pork roast or Schnitzel - and call it German. After all, that's what all the German restaurants in the US do. Or maybe I'll just take it easy, since I will still be recovering from the Peking Ducks...
  • Croatia's Independence Day is on October 8th and their Statehood Day is on June 25th: Scampi by the kilo on both occasions!
  • I am not sure about Spain, but I want to eat paella. I think Hispanic Day on the 12th of October is what Spain considers their "national holiday".
  • Austria's National Day on the 26th of October: Eat all the Schnitzel (basically breaded veal or pork cutlets) and drink all the beer you want.
  • December 10th is Thailand's Constitution Day: We'll have Panang Chicken out of a 5-liter pot of course!
  • Japan's Birthday of the Emperor Akihito on December 23rd: Sushi by the boatload!

Of course, the list is still short. I can always add more next year. Right now, I really don't feel like thinking about food to be honest. Maybe I need to get a few tums. Too bad this wasn't the Austrian National Day. I could have a Schnapps instead...

Posted @ 8:40 PM by Egger, Markus ( -
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