Hello, all! Does your country have a recurring food event? We’re not talking corned beef on Saint Patrick’s Day or Easter ham, here: think more Taco Tuesday.
In Sweden, a common Thursday meal is ärtsoppa och pannkakor. Pea soup followed by pancakes with strawberry jam and cream, the custom dates back centuries to when Friday fasts required a hearty meal the night before.
Friday in Morocco is couscous day. Post midday prayers, people head home or to restaurants for lots of couscous. Making traditional couscous (described here) is a labor-intensive process that involves many hours of steaming.
An honorable mention goes to Argentina’s Dia de Ñoquis. Every month on the 29th (traditionally the day before payday) people ate inexpensive potato gnocchis. Now, it’s a custom in restaurants and homes alike.
So! Is there a regional, recurring food custom in your area? We’re particularly interested in nation-wide examples, but if a region has one too, that’s great! Your answer could even be in an upcoming article on Atlas Obscura.
I’m from Spain, and there are just so many all over the country. In particular, I will talk about the Feast of Turnips at La Foz de Morcín, Asturias, where my father is from. On the second or third sunday of January (whichever falls closer to Saint Anthony the Great, or “Santo Antón”, which happens on the 17th), the tradition is to eat a hearty turnip stew, pote de nabos. Turnips all by themselves don’t have much flavour or even nutritional properties, but the stew comes loaded with a plethora of meats, including chorizo (traditional Spanish paprika-cured sausage), morcilla (blood sausage), ribs, shoulder, and even ears, all from pork. And the traditional dessert to go with it (although we eat them many times around the year) is casadielles, a deep-fried or oven-baked puff pastry with a filling of chopped walnuts or hazelnuts liberally sprinkled with anisette liquor.
The Guild of Friends of the Turnip organizes most of the event, including granting the Golden Turnip to personalities or locals that have somehow distinguished themselves in that year. The award ceremony includes a giant turnip suddenly falling from the sky and the awardee having to kiss it. It’s all quite peculiar, I guess.
The USA is a big place, so I will focus on south Florida which has a variety of food events from fun stuff to heavy duty harvesting of surplus.
For harvests we have huge ‘events’ where we are inundated with avocados and mangoes as they grow by the ton in our area. We have groups that go out and harvest from trees in peoples back yards (with permission) and donate the fruit to various entities that sell or serve it.
Last year we harvested over 2500lbs of mangoes to donate. this year will be a bumper crop as the trees are completely covered in flowers right now. If the season remains stable, it will dwarf any harvest we’ve seen in years.
We have the garlic fest in Lake Worth, FL every year.
Big chili events in Broward County and Dade County (South FL)
Large seafood festivals in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.
Not a country wide event, but it sure feel like it when you are at the events.
We have a National Braai Day in South Africa on 24th September every year Itnis officially known as Heritage Day but there is so much politics in denying Colonialism and pushing the heritage of the majority that a certain section of the population started Braai Day and it is now an official event all over South Africa In our village which is in a farming areawe have a Port Festival as Ca;itzdorp is known as the Port Capital of South Africa We also have the apricot festival where the aom is to use part of the harvest to produce 1000 bottles of jam and preserves most of which is sold to support charities
I’m originally from California, so I feel you on the fruit surplus! Especially this time of year. That’s great that you go out and harvest people’s backyard fruit, it’s always sad when it goes to waste. Those all sound like really cool food events! I never realized there were other garlic fests outside of the really big one Gilroy in California has every year.
Here in Brazil, we have recurring food events depending on the region of the country. Because the country is so big and a real melting pot of people and cultures, you can have dishes based on different cuisines of the world and ingredients from tropical and temperate crops. I’m in the southeast region, in the city of São Paulo specifically, so here we have our national dish served every Saturday lunch. You can enjoy it in the most popular restaurants in the city, usually with samba and cold beer.
In France we have “la Chandeleur” which is basically the crêpe day - it used to be a pagan holiday, then a catholic one, and nowadays it’s mostly just a day when you have to make and eat crêpes, usually wheat ones with sweet fillings (not the buckwheat ones with savory fillings, or at the very least not in my family tradition). It happens every second of february (and I remember it as something not unlike an end of a period of feasting, that would start with christmas, then the galette des rois ‘season’, then the chandeleur).
I can see that Anne’s original intention to make this about “Taco Tuesday”-like weekly food events did not quite work out and most of us are sharing yearly food festivals. That being said, I have worked with several Argentinians and the “eat gnocchi/ñoquis on the 29th of every month” is very much a tradition. My coworkers followed it faithfully even living in Mexico:
Regarding yearly festivals, I made an entry on Mexico’s National Mole Fair that AO passed on, but I might as well share it here.
San Pedro Atocpan is a town technically located in Mexico City, part of the Southernmost and least populated alcaldía (Municipality) of the city, Milpa Alta. Despite this, given its distance from the dense population hub further north, its character is more rural. Milpa Alta itself is the country’s main producer of nopales (tender, edible Opuntia cactus pads), and Atocpan is known for its mole production. San pedro atocpan
Julio Barquera Alvarado / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
Mole (often spelled molé in English), is a thick sauce considered one of the country’s most representative dishes. Most common south of the capital, the best known moles are the poblano, from Puebla, and the multicolored variety of Oaxacan moles. While both of these states are quite defensive of their own mole traditions, Atocpan, as somewhat neutral territory, is free to showcase both, as well as many new and non-traditional recipes. Fachada tienda en San Pedro Atocpan 1
GABIEGUIN / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
This is best showcased on the Mole Fair, which takes place here every October. It is estimated that over 90% of Atocpan’s population work in jobs related to mole production, and that the town fulfills most of Mexico City’s mole needs. With such close ties to the sauce, the annual Mole Fair is Atocpan’s main tourist draw.
The first Mole Fair took place in May 1977 to coincide with the religious feast of the Lord of Mercies. A secular date was preferred and the community later settled on October. While mole is most commonly sold as a thick paste which is then diluted to the preferred consistency at home with broth, the Mole Fair is famous for showcasing many other mole preparations. From enchiladas to pasta, San Pedro Atocpan’s Fair is interested in the innovation of this most traditional of dishes. Exibiciones en la Feria del Mole 2014 17
A01333649 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
I recently learned that central Florida also has multiple “Swamp Cabbage” festivals and also a worm gruntin’ (or worm fiddling, if you prefer) annual celebration. Worm fiddling, for those unfamiliar with the practice, involves staking a piece of wood or metal into moist soil and tapping or fiddling it with another stick, thereby using the vibrations to bring worms to the surface. Or so am I am told - I have not yet been able to experience it firsthand, but I certainly plan to.