Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

Today I wish a happy Independence Day to all my smart, vigorously commenting, articulate, wonderful readers who make this blog so exciting to write.

Many of you come here to read about food and drink, for the occasional recipe, or to enjoy my wife’s excellent photography, but I’m guessing from the comments and from which posts are most read, that people come back because I’m an independent thinker and writer about food and cooking.

I, with my friend and collaborator, Brian Polcyn, wrote a love song to animal fat and salt in a fat- and salt-phobic country. Earlier this week, I moved to make July Butter Is a Vegetable month (because it is, if you think about it right) even though every doctor in America will warn you away from too much butter (no matter that it’s not necessarily so cut and dry), and for simply stating what should be obvious: FAT DOESN’T MAKE US FAT, EATING TOO MUCH MAKES US FAT!  Sitting on our asses all day eating processed food and drinking Big Gulps and eating at Cheesecake Factory makes us fat! (See Gary Taubes on what really makes us fat, and why diets low in fat and high in whole-grain carbohydrates and fruit are not necessarily good for us.) And generally calling bullshit on our stupid, self-righteous, based-on-nothing-factual diets that are more often harmful than not, and serve only to show how utterly confused this country is about what once seemed obvious.

Some of you will call me stupid and self-righteous for what I just wrote, and I welcome that, too, because that’s what this country was founded on, and what we celebrate today: independent thought and action by extraordinary men and women (Thomas Jefferson, Abigail Adams, for instance), the freedom to say what you believe. It does not mean the freedom to do whatever you want and fuck everybody else, as Kurt Andersen reminds us today in a NYTimes op-ed piece and Jefferson warned 200 years ago. It means working together in the spirit of independence, and in this digital age it means practicing and encouraging transparency, the sharing of ideas, and openness so that we can become an even better country tomorrow.

I love best America’s nonreligious holidays: Thanksgiving, Halloween, and the Fourth of July. And so did my Dad. So today is also personal and fraught with memories that make me happy and sad at the same time. And it’s why on this holiday the communion with the father I take is an old-Chicago-style hotdog, grilled over high heat, served on a soft bun with mustard and diced onion, and the wine I drink will be Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Dortmunder Gold, brewed four miles from my house, and I will do so among friends, and feel lucky in their presence for the great good fortune of living where I do.

Happy Fourth of July, all.

More Fourth of July related links:

© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.


10 Wonderful responses to “Happy Independence Day”

  • michael weingarten

    Thanks for another well written and honest piece. Happy 4th of July from one of your Canadian supporters. Happy Canada Day (July 1) to all of your Canadian readers!

  • karen downie makley

    re; fat not making us fat—true story: in my professional life, i specialize in healthy cuisine. it is my stock in trade. however, i have been obsessed with cakes lately. cakes with butter, shortening, sugar—all of the dietary no-no’s. i have been on a baking bender, sharing my goods with family and friends. my father called me the other day and joked he had lost 2 lbs after finishing a 9″ layer cake i baked him. i spent a good chunk of last week comparing buttercream recipes…and today, i am down a couple pounds!!??! i suspect that our internal body furnace can regulate itself if we let go a little and listen to the signals it gives us about balance (e.g.–i do not drink or eat nuts on days when i have bakery…it tastes weird to me and my body must just be saying “ugh. too much”) losing weight on cake?? i’ll take it!

  • Kathy

    Happy 4th of July to you and yours, and happy memories, too! We’ll be celebrating with local brew, locally made pork and venison sausages, and a whole lotta farmer’s market veggies slapped on the grill. Maybe a few sparklers if things get really crazy!

  • Zalbar

    …I thought you had gotten over your hatred of cheesecake factory after your trip with the miso salmon. Calling them out unfairly methinks. If you’d called out the golden arches, I wouldn’t bring it up but I doubt there is anyone or any family that is habitually dining enough at cheesecake factory to contribute in any meaningful way to their obesity. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

    That being said, I don’t necessarily disagree with your sentiments. As a society we have turned over our nutritional needs to large multinational corporations that were initially producing healthy fare at a reasonable price. While competition is good for the pocketbook, it is not good for quality. In demanding cheaper food, we are offered cheaper products. People have forgotten what food is. They have forgotten what it is to cook and nourish. Everything is either individually packaged, econo or family sized. Everyone lines up at the grocery stores to line the pockets of PepsiCo, Dole, General Mills, Tyson, Cargill, and JBS. Everything is highly laced with sugars and salts to make tasty deep fried battered cardboard taste good. True choice is stifled. Can’t label something that has been genetically modified, that may cause a panic. You can’t dish on the beef industry, that’s a lawsuit. You can’t choose milk that has been produced without growth hormones. They have given up their independence.

    Happy July 4th!!

    ~Zalbar (Montreal – Canada)

    p.s. I don’t really have anything against genetically modified foods as long as the proper tests, safeguards and precautions have been performed. The food industry has consistently lied, abused and misinformed the public and government at all levels concerning everything in the name of making a buck.

  • steve

    A grand Independence Day to you Michael from another Heights dweller. Smoking Miller Berkshire ribs on my Weber today. And my vote would be against all genetically modified foods, although that must be how they are raising so many chicken wings, chicken with 6 wings perhaps.

  • Allen

    I read on this site that a meal should consist mostly of plant based foods and a lot of gluten free recipes. So it’s not all bad stuff being promoted; the bad stuff is just so goddam good!
    I learned how to confit, and now do it with chicken legs for economical tasty meals, and how to make beer vinegar, veal salt, aged eggnogg. These may not be health foods but they are cherished memorable favorites in my house.
    If I could only learn propper grammar and punctuation, thank you for your patience with us not so smart folk, and my apologies for the mis spellings and piss poor grammar. Most of them occur on cocktail Friday, so I am blaming it on that.

    Happy 4th all, let’s carry this happiness on to 2013. Rah rah sis boom bah, baby’s in the high chair, who put her up there? Ma, pa, sis boom bah!

  • Jon

    Happy 4th all… remain cool, well fed, and quite hydrated. : ) Michael and Donna… you keep me coming back for more. Thankfully with RSS I never miss a word or a pic.

  • Carri

    Happy Independence Day back at you! I just spent a couple of days hanging out at the Coyle camp with a whole bunch of people and all we talked about was food. The China Study has been passed around and everyone is ramping back on their high protein diets (we did not roast a whole pig this year like we usually do, it was salmon instead) and spending way more time than ever thinking and talking about what they eat. It feels like yet another fad to me, I’m afraid. Personally, I just smile and nod and think to myself, “You say don’t want any bacon? Great…more for me!”