You'll be hearing from the staff at Food52 in Too Many Cooks, our group column in which we pool our answers to questions about food, cooking, life, and more.
It's very possible that you will listen to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” at least once, if not on repeat, over the Fourth of July weekend. And you may also devour your favorite summertime staples; this fair nation certainly has some amazing, wacky, and often unhealthy summer food traditions (corn dogs come to mind). The thought of summertime in America can conjure up all sorts of food memories: boardwalk snacks, state fair desserts, and beach lunches, to name a few. So we asked our Food52 staffers to travel down memory lane and tell us:
What foods mean "Summer in the USA" to you?
Do you look back fondly on giant cones of soft serve or funnel cakes galore? Tell us in the comments!
Talia: As a Canadian, I'm going to have to state the obvious: hot dogs with lots of mustard. “Summer in the USA” also reminds me of lobster rolls and fried clams, though I think the 6-hour drive from Montreal to Maine, squished between two pre-teen brothers, added a heavy layer of amazing to those two dishes. As for the sweet side of things, Choco Tacos were the gold standard of dessert at my camp.
Danny: On hot summer days, all the neighborhood kids would hang out at the steps and play boxball, and the only interruption would be when Mister Softee came around. “Double-cone-vanilla-with-rainbow-sprinkles, pleeeaaaase!! Thanks Mommy!”
Marian: Every year, for our magic company's Fourth of July cookout, my mom would make fruit pizza with cream cheese for "sauce," with appropriately colored berries in the appropriate locations. My sister and I would decorate our bikes with streamers, ride the two miles to said cookout, and sit under the shade eating grilled steak off paper plates while Dad played chess. Sometimes there was volleyball.
Catherine O.: I remember crab feasts, followed by a trip to Dairy Queen for a vanilla cone dipped in chocolate.
Posie: Once or twice a summer, during a phase when my dad attempted to grow strawberries, my mom would make us French fries (tossed hot with sea salt in a big brown paper bag) and strawberry milkshakes -- but we had to churn the ice cream first.
Peter: I’m reminded of frozen Charleston Chews from the snack bar at the community pool. You'd whack them on the table (still in the wrapper) to break them into bite-sized pieces.
Catherine L.: I definitely think of Otter Pops, as well as vanilla soft serve, dipped (yes, literally rolled) in rainbow sprinkles. The sprinkles had to cover the entire surface area of the ice cream, or I wouldn't eat it.
Tell us: What foods mean "Summer in the USA" to you?