In the mood for a raspberry popover, a heavenly slice of coconut cream pie, or a big bowl of strawberries and cream? Maybe you’d prefer something a little more substantial, like some southern barbecue, a hoagie, or even a roast leg of lamb?
Whatever your pleasure, did you know that each of these foods has its own designated holiday during the month of May? Of course one does not need a holiday to enjoy any food, but somehow it’s a little more fun that way.
Back in 2005, Alabama resident John-Bryan Hopkins coined the term “Foodimentary” while cooking with friends. He wanted to start a food blog (he had the perfect name for it), but wanted to do something different. He wanted to feature interesting food facts rather than write a personal blog with recipes. So he read, researched, and gathered all kinds of fascinating tidbits of food history and trivia, sharing them daily with his readers.
His blog gained a good following immediately, and he soon expanded his reach via various social media platforms, most notably, Twitter. His foodie info-bites were perfect for Twitter. People gobbled up his short nuggets and couldn’t get enough. Hopkins also noted that food holidays were one of the most popular and trending topics in the food category, so he decided to incorporate them into his Foodimentary website.
Food holidays were not new — many had been created by companies and corporations to promote their brands. But back in 2008, there was little about food holidays on the internet. Although some of these food holidays were decidedly gimmicky, somehow social media loved them. Why not give people what they craved?
Hopkins made a list of existing food holidays and then essentially created his own calendar by omitting outdated holidays and those he didn’t particularly like (National Lard Day, National Frozen Food Day). He also added over 100 new ones (did you know national food holidays can be created by anyone?). It wasn’t long before Google officially adopted Hopkins’s food calendar and he earned two Shorty Awards, which honor people and organizations creating the best real-time short content on social media. And it all started with a made-up word, a word that changed his life. Today, Foodimentary is considered a leading source for food celebrations and holidays, as well as a pioneer in social media food communication, having been cited in the LA Times, Slate, NY Times, Mashable, Food Network, Slash Food, and Epicurious.
In my early days of blogging, I frequented a couple of sites that listed food holidays. This often gave me ideas about recipes to make, posts to write. Around 2011, when I moved to WordPress, I subscribed to Foodimentary. I still enjoy my daily fix of food history, nostalgia, vintage photos, and miscellaneous this and that. And, it was exciting to hear that Hopkins had recently published Foodimentary: Celebrating 365 Food Holidays with Classic Recipes (Wellfleet Press, 2018).
The book is divided into seasons, with art by four different illustrators. There are lists of Monthly Food Celebrations, followed by individual pages devoted to each day, with recipes and random “fun food fact” sidebars sprinkled throughout.
On March 1, Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, we learn “the earliest version of peanut butter dates all the way back to the Aztecs and Incas, who crushed peanuts into a paste.” For June 22, Onion Ring Day, we learn “one of the first documented onion ring recipes appeared as a Crisco advertisement in the New York Times Magazine in 1933.”
One could become positively giddy reading about Hot Fudge Sundae Day (July 25), Cuban Sandwich Day (August 23), or Brownie Day (December 8). Yes, this is quite a culinary feast for general infomaniacs, food trivia buffs, curious eaters, calendar keepers, and enthusiastic home cooks who enjoy serving up some chewy info on the side.
Best part is, you can use this reference book any way you please. Read a page a day according to actual calendar date, gulp it down in one fell swoop, dip in or graze à la carte as the mood suits, look up what holiday is featured on your birthday or anniversary, browse for new recipes to try whenever. I like learning something new about my fave classic foods: rice pudding, sloppy joes, mac and cheese, ice cream, tapioca pudding, waffles, chicken soup. And I like having some tasty “conversation starters” to make me look smart at all times. 🙂 And wouldn’t it be fun for teachers to share a few food facts each morning in class?
Hopkins’s food calendar-ing is a dynamic process too. He continues to work on developing the best one he can, constantly adding new holidays or eliminating those which prove less popular. After all, food fads, diets, and interests constantly change, and like the old saying goes, “variety is the spice of life.”
Recipes I’d like to try:
- Cherry Cobbler
- Pepperoni and Sausage Pizza Dip
- Blueberry Pancake Madeleines
- Slower-Cooker BBQ Brisket
- Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Muffins
- Diner-Style Sloppy Joes
- Traditional Tapioca Pudding
While it’s nice to have classic recipes included in the book, there are no photos of any of the finished dishes (though there are spot illos). I also wish there was an Index of Recipes (in addition to the general index) in the back, along with a complete list of all the holidays for quick at-a-glance reference.
Still, this is a fun book to have on hand, a nice gift idea for any foodies you might know, and it’s an especially helpful resource for food bloggers.
So, May is National Egg Month, National Salad Month, and National Salsa Month. Coming up soon: the first Friday in June is National Donut Day! I just looked up Paul McCartney’s birthday, June 18: it’s International Picnic Day (of course in honor of Paul, it will have to be an all veggie picnic)!
See what I mean? The possibilities for fun, food and feasting are endless. 🙂
Ultimately, celebrating food every day of the year is definitely the way to go. As those in the know like to say, “It’s foodimentary, my dear!”
FOODIMENTARY: Celebrating 365 Food Holidays with Classic Recipes
written by John-Bryan Hopkins
published by Wellfleet Books, January 2018
Culinary Reference/Nonfiction, 352 pp.
This post is being linked to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best aprons and bibs, and come join the fun!
Copyright © 2019 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.