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.

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