Are you enough of a "food geek" that you use traditional, or obscure, holidays as an excuse to cook some foods you normally wouldn't have in your rotation? Do you use these occasions as a great excuse to host a dinner party?
I fall into this category!! Whether it's Irish fare for St. Patrick's Day, or German goodies for Oktoberfest, or Cajun and bayou splurges for Mardi Gras, I love the opportunity to geek out.
My mind really jumpstarted into thinking about this subject this past week. I had read a little about one of these obscure traditions that I had not heard of before: the Burns dinner. It is a dinner, seeped in tradition and ceremony, that celebrates the life and contributions of the national bard of Scotland, poet Robert Burns. Among some of his famous works is the song Auld Lang Syne. It's a fascinating affair of a dinner, and I will most likely post more about it in the future.
So, I thought to myself... "Self, is it unusual that I like to cook appropriate and traditional dishes for strange holidays, that may not be holidays necessarily applicable to me, and why didn't I hear about this Burns night, previously, with the perfect opportunity to munch haggis and sip Scotch??"
Thus began my brainstorming of all the events that I like to geek out on, foodwise...
On the occasion of Mardi Gras, I favor the shrimp po' boy, complete with crunchy fried shrimp, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and, of course, a spicy & tangy remoulade sauce. Paired with a batch of fresh made dirty rice, golden hushpuppies, and some form of beans, you've got a delicious meal. You can go the route of the Hurricane or some Louisiana beers like Black Voodoo or an Abita offering. Gotta play some zydeco and backwater music! Oh, and don't forget the beads!!!
For St. Patrick's Day, I have made such dishes as corned beef and cabbage (and corned beef hash for the following day, from the leftovers), colcannon, and Irish soda bread. Some things I will be tackling in future years may include Irish stew, or roasted lamb. And of course, I have to pair up the appropriate beverages, such as a nice, heady Guiness, a dram of Irish whisky, or even a lighter Harp beer. To set the pub mood, play some bagpipe music (I know, I know, it's Scottish, but still...), some Pogues, Dropkick Murphys, The Dubliners, or any other traditional, classic Celtic or Irish music.
During Oktoberfest in Germany, I like to hold my own version. This year will be my 3rd annual Reiter Oktoberfest. I like to go crazy with this one! If any of you have had the pleasure of attending, you know how much I love this theme!
Some of the foods I like to make include Jaegerschnitzel with hunter sauce, hot German potato salad, Brussels sprouts cooked with garlic and bacon, soft pretzels with Dutch mustard, red cabbage, pickled vegetables, a German/Swiss cheese selection, braunschweiger, zwiebelkuchen, strudels... I could go on and on, and on, and on... but you get the picture! And of course, the beer selection! I usually have a LOT of beer on hand for this event, including a variety of German beers. This past year, I even made an exception to include a semi-hometown favorite of mine: Mother's Brewing Company out of Springfield Missouri put out an exceptional Oktoberfest beer called Old School. I deemed it worthy enough to bend my domestics ban! I like to complete the mood with Polka music and lederhosen!
There are countless other holidays you could geek out on, including, but not limited to: Cinco de Mayo, Bastille Day, the aforementioned Burns night dinner...
Now, it's YOUR turn... I want to hear about how you geek out for "foodie holidays". Which ones do you do something special for? Do you have a huge bash, or is it just a couples night in? Let me hear it... I will love reading about how you celebrate these kind of holidays with food!