While Independence Day technically celebrates our country’s independence and patriotism, many Americans associate it more strongly with the traditions and food. Barbeques are a common theme, however, family feasts are surprisingly varied based on hometowns and family backgrounds.

Island-Themed Independence

Ben Parker ’16 has an island-themed meal consisting of swordfish from a local restaurant. Because the fish is expensive, his family only has it on the Fourth of July, making it especially special. Ben raved about the swordfish, describing its marinade “kind of like a pesto marinara” and the texture, which is “so soft and creamy.”

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Photo from Northwestern Spoon

Specialty Seafood and Sweets

Seafood is also popular in the hometowns of Catherine Most ’16 from Seattle and Stacy Livingston ’16 from Sanford, Maine, so both of their families enjoy seafood as part of their special meal. In accordance with the local catch, Catherine enjoys salmon and Stacy feasts on lobster. Both of their families also enjoy similar fruit-and-cake desserts: Stacy has strawberry shortcake, while Catherine’s family puts a twist on the classic with blueberries, pound cake, and whipped cream.

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Photo by David Cui of the University of Illinois-UC Spoon

Melting Pot

Shreya Indukuri ’16, whose parents are from India, has an “Indo-American fusion” barbeque with their Indian-American friends. Her favorite foods at the barbeque are the kabobs, which include paneer tikka kabobs with special masala and tandoori chicken kabobs. Since Shreya is from California, avocados also make a grand appearance.

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Photo by Maddy Shannon of Northwestern Spoon

Family Recipe

For Jesse Menville ‘16, she celebrates with a family-invented dessert of crescent rolls filled with sautéed apples and cinnamon. Though it doesn’t have a name, she suggested that it be called The Springsteen, after her grandfather who is “the patriarch” of the family and “ties everyone together.”

Dressing for the Ocassion

Drew Zwetchkenbaum ‘16 has many unique elements in his family’s barbeque. Drew’s mother makes a special Fourth of July JELL-O mold consisting of blue and red JELL-O layers with cool whip. Their main attraction, however, is the family parade. To add extra fun, many wear costumes, which in the past have included pilgrim and Uncle Sam outfits. I actually will be spending the Fourth of July with the Zwetchkenbaum family and plan to immerse myself in another family’s traditions by donning a costume and filling myself with red, white, and blue.