Saturday, August 1, 2020

Five months to go. And thanks to our bubbling productivity so far, we only need to average about 4.75 celebrations per day in order to hit 2,000 for the year, so that will actually allow us to ramp down every now and then. Might yesterday have been one of those days? Nah, we had plenty to keep us busy, even if we had to postpone the raspberry cake, the “getting gnarly” zipline experience and the act of talking in an elevator. The sun was shining yesterday and the gentle breeze was alive with all of this crap:

National Avocado Day

I remember hearing that our supply of avocados is in danger, which prompted a number of self-stylized “humorists” online to chuckle that hipsters will panic at the loss of their beloved avocado toast. I mean, I’ve tried avocado toast before and liked it, but is it really that magnificent?

Yes. It absolutely is. Pictured above was my first attempt at creating avocado toast, and it will not be my last. It’s remarkably easy – just shmush the avocado in a bowl with a teaspoon of lemon juice and some salt and pepper, smear it on a couple slices of toasted bread then drizzle some olive oil and chili flakes on top. It takes about as much time to prepare as peanut butter on toast, and it’s far tastier.

The avocado – a berry with one big ol’ seed in the middle – likely began its journey into hipster cuisine from the Tehuacan Valley in Mexico. You can trace the etymology of the word back through the Nahuatl language, where the same term (ahuacatl) also meant testicle. In Florida they used to be called alligator pears, which I suppose makes sense, so long as you completely ignore the origin term – a truly Floridian move.

Jodie was hesitant with this one, not being a big fan of the texture. But she loves a good guacamole, and she loves a good avocado toast. So call us hipsters – we’ve been called much worse. But this was a great little celebration of balls-on-toast.

National Mutt Day

As I mentioned in yesterday’s article, we have no mutts roaming our house. But mutts are dogs and we love all dogs, or at least the ones whose mission on this planet is to brighten the experience of humanity with love and slobber. Those little yippy ones who can’t control their incessant grumpiness, we don’t care much for them.

But just because we don’t have any mutts laying about doesn’t mean we can’t show a little love for some of our favourite mutts. In addition to the various mixed-breed dogs we’ve known and loved, there’s also Mutt Williams, Indiana Jones’s son (played by Shia LaBoeuf) in that fourth movie that everyone agreed unanimously was better than the first three combined.

There’s Jeff’s buddy from that comic strip that ran from 1907 to 1983. I have no memory of this whatsoever. How about Mutt from the G.I. Joe series (pictured above), who had one of the finest mustaches in the entire franchise? There’s Mutt, Virginia, an unincorporated collection of buildings. I did a little walk through there on Google street view, and found it charming, but with astoundingly crooked photos. Step it up, Google. Or step it up, Mutt. I don’t know who is at fault here.

There’s a Chicago band called Mutts, apparently formed by a pair of musicians who bonded over their love of Tom Waits. I checked out a few of their songs and I’d say I’m now a fan. I hope they recognized the significance of yesterday and had a happy one. So many glorious mutts.

Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day

Ever a fan of music I appreciate it when an artist chooses to use an eclectic instrument to deliver their goods. This type of experimentation has been done repeatedly since the 1960s, to the point where I’m pretty sure there are no remaining obscure instruments that haven’t been dropped into some rock or electronica tune.

The Beach Boys turned the theremin into a lead instrument in the chorus of “Good Vibrations.” The Beatles made use of a comb and toilet paper on “Lovely Rita.” The mellotron would be considered an uncommon musical instrument – it’s essentially a keyboard wherein each key plays a loop of audio tape that corresponds with the note. That flute at the beginning of “Strawberry Fields Forever” is not a flute, but a mellotron stacked with a set of tapes of flute tones. The Moody Blues used the hell out of the mellotron, as did most heady bands of that era.

Ever hear someone solo through an Electrolux vacuum? If you’ve ever seen Phish perform live, you’ve probably seen drummer John Fishman wail on this thing. Tubular bells don’t get a lot of play on the radio, but Mike Oldfield had a couple of successful albums built around that sound. The marimba, a wooden xylophone-type device, features on early Steely Dan recordings, as well as in the opening notes of “Mamma Mia” by ABBA.

How about Jamiroquai rocking the didgeridoo on a few of their early tracks? The ondes Martenot is an extremely early electronic instrument, first crafted in 1928 by cellist Maurice Martenot. Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead actually knows how to play this quite well, and you can hear it in multiple tracks on their brilliant Kid A album.

When you hear an odd noise in a song, look it up and see what it is. You might be blown away by the creativity of the artist. Or maybe they just made a guitar sound strange – they seem to be able to do that in new ways all the time.

National Chicken Wing Day

We bumped this day from Wednesday, as settling for store-bought wings or wings from some lesser establishment would have been sacrilege, at least as far as ‘sacrilege’ really counts when you’re celebrating an appetizer.

With any great food you’re going to get arguments over who invented it, this much we have come to expect. While the notion of eating the wing parts (known in the business as the ‘flats’ and the ‘drumettes’) goes back as far as humans have been munching down poultry, the wing was truly elevated by the invention of what we call the Buffalo Wing. I’m not going to cover every origin story purported to represent how the buffalo wing became a favourite appetizer.

We’re going to hand this one over to the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, where co-owner Teressa Bellissimo was believed to have created the dish in 1964. Prior to this, wings were considered along with the necks of chicken to be fine for creating a soup stock, but that was about it. Teressa may have been motivated by an unexpected visit by her son and his college friends one night, or perhaps simply because it was a bustling evening and they were looking to procure something new for their guests. But at some point she breaded some wings, tossed them in a deep fryer, then coated them in a mixture of melted butter and spicy hot sauce. A legend was born.

In 1977 the City of Buffalo commemorated the Anchor Bar’s contribution to culinary excellence by declaring July 29 of that year to be Chicken Wing Day. Wings grew in popularity, helped somewhat by the Buffalo Bills’ four consecutive Super Bowl appearances in the 1990s. It was in honour of that fourth appearance that Domino’s added buffalo wings to their national menu, with Pizza Hut following suit the next year. But even before the big chains jumped on board, wings were the perfect bar food. We used to head to the Grinder Bar on 124th street for their 10-cent wing Sundays, then over to Kelsey’s for their 25-cent wing Mondays. Believe me, the bump in price was worth it; Kelsey’s wings were massive.

And the ones pictured above, which we enjoyed on the open-air, one-table patio at Da-De-O last night, are even better. Chicken wings absolutely deserve a day to be lauded. Thanks, Teressa.

We’ll get busy with jelly beans and cotton candy today, when we can grab some from our beloved candy shop. We’ll also have all this to tackle:

  • National Mah-jong Day. I’ve only ever played this online, and I guess I’ll do so again today/
  • National Raspberry Cream Pie Day. This will be bumped to tomorrow. Also, it may not be a ‘cream pie’, but it’ll be close enough.
  • Respect For Parents Day. Wow. Parents sure get a lot of love in this little project, don’t they?
  • Spider-Man Day. Perhaps a re-watching of a Spider-Man movie is in order.
  • National Disc Golf Day. I’m not sure if that’s still a thing we can do in this modern age, but we’ll look into it.
  • National Jamaican Patty Day. Another day, another appetizer.
  • National Mustard Day. I hope this pairs well with Jamaican patties.
  • National Mead Day. Not my favourite thirst-quencher, but we can get some.
  • National Colorado Day. Not part of our official journey around American cuisine, so we might just celebrate Colorado’s forward-thinking marijuana laws.
  • Rounds Resounding Day. A day to celebrate the musical round. Anyone want to row, row, row a boat?
  • International Child-Free Day. Now we’re talking.
  • Play Ball Day. I suppose baseball is in swing now, isn’t it?
  • Women Astronomers Day. This is certainly looking like a full day.
  • World Wide Web Day. Okay, sure, we’ll add this in.
  • Yorkshire Day. Wow. Hooray for Yorkshire!

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