As the American people are held hostage to the Trump-Clinton run for the US presidency, the 4th of July is an opportunity to relax and celebrate the day the Congress approved the Declaration of Independence. In a letter to his wife Abigail dated 3 July 1776, John Adams enthusiastically writes that the 4th of July "will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more." It was on this day that thirteen US colonies declared their freedom from the British Empire. And it is on this day, that the American skies are coloured by fireworks in red, white and blue.

From the west coast to the east coast the skies were last night illuminated with fireworks. At 9.25pm on Monday Macy’s fireworks popped over one million patriotic heads despite a few sprinkles of rain. For 30 minutes, rainbows in colourful hues, red blue and white flares and “pyro-writing” spelling out “USA”, erupted across the night skies. On the ground, however, fears of gun violence and terrorism kept policemen alert as 2,000 new officers were added to the New York Police Department’s patrol, and in Chicago 5,000 officers were on patrol during the long weekend.

The 4th of July is one of the busiest days for travelling and Americans opt for the countryside of green grass and smoky barbecues, with all the appropriate side dishes: southern baked beans with molasses and bacon, corn on the cob, potato salad, deviled eggs, brownies or pie.

For many, food is as colourful as the American flag and is sprinkled in reds, blues and whites. Red tomatoes, lobsters, salsas, cherry pies, strawberries and watermelon add a touch of red at the feast. White grilled chicken breasts, mayonnaise, potato salad and cheeses are paired with blueberries, or rice krispies and angel food cake made in red, white and blue.  

Delights Across America

In the South there is fried chicken with fried green tomatoes, okra, collards and biscuits or beer-batter fried pickles and barbecue burgers gulped down with copious amounts of beer. For dessert, there is peach cobbler or red velvet-berry cobbler with cream cheese ice cream and pecan pie. After 9:00pm when the shows begin, people enjoy firework cruises along the Mississippi. In the French Quarter you can try Creole specialties such as jambalaya, seafood gumbo and red beans.

In the northeast, clams, lobsters, baked potatoes, corn and onions are served with plenty amounts of butter. New Englanders enjoy grilled lobster, clam chowder and blueberry crumble. If you are around Boston, restaurants such as the ArtBar, Barcelona Wine Bar, Bergamot, Commonwealth and Warren Tavern are serving steamed clams, stuffed lobster, and burgers with lots of Sangria. 

In the west coast Dungeness crabs and grilled salmon are among the favourite dishes. If you happen to be in Washington D.C. then dining in Occidental Grill and Seafood, Sequoia, or Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place will guarantee views to the 4th of July fireworks. Scallops, crab cakes, and raw oysters coupled with a glass of strawberry margarita or prosecco will make this day special. Occidental’s history of being a gathering place for politicians, celebrities and sports figures—Martin Luther King Jr. dined here in 1963, while in 2013 the restaurant appears in the film Captain America—is perhaps an appropriate way to dine in luxury and style.

The southwest is spiced by Mexican flavours and guacamole is a staple. Fresh fruit and sweet flan coated with syrup and the warm scent of vanilla punctuate the end of a hearty meal. If you are near Phoenix, Arizona, Philly’s Famous delivers cheese steak sandwiches to die for ($6.50-$10.25). MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain, also in Phoenix, serves retro food in charming vintage booths. Pink and blue milkshakes topped with cherries and made by 1950s-style waitresses in pink and black will have you reminiscing about the good old days. 

The Midwest celebrates with fresh vegetables, hot German potato salad, bratwurst with onions, followed by ice cream and cherry, apple, or rhubarb pie. In Traverse City, Michigan there is the National Cherry Festival (2 July-9 July) with concerts, races and other events. On the 4th of July, all of your senses will be entertained with air shows, blues, brew and barbecue. Tickets range from $7-$85 depending on the type of event.

Independence day is also a hot dog day (155 million hot dogs are consumed in total) and in Coney Island there is the annual Nathan’s famous hot dog eating competition with a $10,000 winning prize. 

4th of July Consumption

Two-thirds of Americans barbeque (think of about 900 million pounds of beef and chicken) and about 43% partake in fireworks displays. It is estimated that $1 billion was spent this 4th of July on beer and $568.3 million in wine. $6,770,000,000 was spent on food, $203,000,000 on condiments, $111,000,000 on popsicles and charcoal and $600,000,000 on fireworks. Americans ate over 700,000,000 pounds of chicken and 190,000,000 pounds of beef. According to $289 million was spent on chicken, $388 million in fresh ground beef, $116 million in cherries, $114 million in deli salads and $83 million in watermelon. $36 million was spent on corn on the cob, $28 million in bakery pies, $27 million in Italian sausage and $25 million in bratwurst sausages. $318 million was spent in chips, $133 million in hamburger and hot dog buns, and $42 million in barbecue sauce. Food and drink purchasing data might not appear in good taste when describing a day that is close to heart for many Americans, but it does say a lot about the kinds of food that flavour our lives, and they are definitely not just red, blue and white. From New Orleans’ Po’ boys, to German and Italian sausages and the all-American apple pie, brought to the US by 17th-century British, Dutch and Swedes, American food is a colourful concoction of all the nations the US has come into contact with, and for that is so much more inviting.