In the United States of Propane, burgers and barbecue are standard Fourth of July fare. With the exception of Thanksgiving, there are few national holidays as inextricably linked to a specific menu as this week’s festival of fireworks and frankfurters.
But, as Yusuf Islam might say, Baby, baby, it’s a wild world. Different countries across the globe have their own independence days, and their own delicious ways of celebrating. Consider the frothy Pisco cocktails raised across Peru, toasting freedom from Spanish rule. Or the tri-color Independence Day treats prepared across India in nationalistic shades of orange, white and green. The sweet taste of freedom is subject to variation.
In May or June, depending on where the date falls on the Hebrew calendar, Israelis celebrate Independence Day with their own menu on the mangal, or charcoal grill. Descriptively called “on the fire,” Israeli barbecues serve skewered kebabs made of lamb or beef with killer Levantine sides like couscous tabbouleh, smoky eggplant dip and roast cauliflower with pomegranate and tahini sauce. [See also: Israeli Cuisine Is Getting Serious In The States]
While most norteamericanos associate Mexican nationalism with Cinco de Mayo, the actual celebration of Mexico’s independence from Spain falls on September 16. Celebrants eat chiles en nogada, or poblanos stuffed with minced pork and covered with walnut sauce, parsley and pomegranates, because the colors on the plate are the same red, white and green as the Mexican flag. [See also: 18 Recipes That Remind Us That Mexican Food Tastes Better In Summer]
On August 31, 1957, the Federation of Malaya ousted the Brits. These days, Malaysians celebrate with traditional delicacies like nasi lemak, the ridiculously addictive national dish that combines rice cooked in coconut milk with pandanus leaf, ginger, lemongrass and crunchy fried peanuts. [See also: 10 Reasons We Are Blown Away By Malaysian Food]
Norwegians celebrate their independence from the Swedish monarchy on April 17. Called Constitution Day, it’s commemorated with an enormous parade in Oslo and foods like sour cream porridge and lutefisk, a gelatinous dried whitefish that is akin to flaky gefilte fish and equally terrifying. [See also: Norwegian food stories]
The first independent nation in the Caribbean, and the world’s first black-led republic, Haiti’s 1804 revolution was historic. On January 1, Haitians fete their victory with soup joumou, a hearty mix of pumpkin, beef, turnips, cabbage, scotch bonnets and sometimes a little pasta thrown in for good measure. [See also: 5 Semi-Legal Culinary Souvenirs]
To commemorate sovereignty from the U.K., on August 15, Indians create a spectrum of dishes featuring the orange, white and green of their national flag. A Northern Indian favorite is tiranga pulao, or tri-color rice pilaf, made from basmati rice, carrots and coriander, then topped with chopped cashews and dried fruit. [See also: Indian food stories]
While the land down under doesn’t celebrate an independence day per se, January 26’s Australia Day is a similarly nationalistic fete. Aussies toast their country with Lamington cake, a bake sale classic à la American Rice Krispies treats. Typically sliced into small squares, Sir Lamington is a yellow sheet cake coated in chocolate icing and shredded coconut. [See also: Happy Australia Day! Australia Day?]
On July 28, Peruvians toast Spanish colonial defeat with Pisco, the national spirit so popular it spawned an eponymous port and epic debate for ownership against neighboring Chile. Variations on the classic Pisco Sour abound, but a general combination of Pisco, simple syrup, lime juice, egg white and Angostura bitters should do the trick. Viva la revolución, viva la gastronomía. [See also: 5 Piscos To Try Right Now]
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