INDEPENDENCE DAY PICNIC

Al fresco dining is one of summer's classic pleasures. From the Norman conquest of England as depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry to the folklore of Robin Hood and his Merry Men drinking ale and breaking bread beneath the trees in the Sherwood Forest, picnicking has centuries of romantic nuance. For Americans, the Fourth of July is a day expected to include fireworks and food prepared to share at an outdoor gathering with friends and family. Whether at the beach, lakeside, in the backyard, or on the Esplanade for the annual July 4th Boston Pop's Concert, food to be shared is never an afterthought. 

July 4th is America's greatest contribution to dining out-of-doors. The plates, albeit endearingly kitschy, are expected to charm, dazzle, and create patriotic nostalgia--red, white, and blue themed food and tablescapes remain forever a must of the celebration. 

Independence Day remains the U.S.A.'s most popular picnicking day. More often than not, the picnic is a gathering of friends and family that lasts all day and into the night when the skies are lit with a spectacular display of mostly legal twinkling, colorful explosions. It is more often than not a grilling extravaganza. Nothing says bbq and 4th of July like the ubiquitous American obsession with hamburgers. This year why not serve sizzling lamb burgers for the grilling gourmands? After all, unlike most beef raised in the states, lamb available at the supermarket from the U.S., New Zealand, & Australia is almost exclusively grass fed. To boot, it is often available locally at farmer's markets and fresh and flavorful. Serve the lamb sliders with a rainbow of sliced tomatoes and a crispy, toasted sesame seed flecked salad. Comprised of organically grown carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, and mesclun greens dressed with an Asian inspired vinaigrette from Vermont's Sugarbush stomping grounds of American Flatbread, this salad is an easy crowd pleaser.

Add to the festivities with refreshing strawberry scented cold soup shooters made celebration worthy with the tiny leaves of edible garden flowers. Pass the tray and toast to independence. Bottoms up! The end of the festivities should be as spectacular as the anticipation and the fireworks show. There is no denying that pie is the ultimate All American dessert and symbol of American food culture representing home, tradition, and abundance. Just before the night sky is ablaze with loud and colorful pyrotechnics, pass forks and slices of heavenly lavender laced summer blueberry pie. Sit back and enjoy what just may be the best pie you have ever tasted. Celebrate a day dedicated to being a proud American and everything that it stands for: generosity, compassion for others, entrepreneurial spirit, freedom to worship, freedom to speak, and an ability to right past wrongs.

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