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Seven Out-of-Season Food Festivals

Yesterday, according to the American Food Holidays calendar (bless you, O mysterious curator--you are the savior of food bloggers with deadlines everywhere), was National Peach Cobbler Day. Yes, yesterday, April 13, a day when there are no peaches in season within the United States of Mexico, the Estados Unidos Mexicanos, or the Confederated Provinces of Soviet Canuckistan. (Kidding, neighbours to the north... kidding.)

It doesn't make any sense. Why celebrate a holiday when the best you can do is frozen peaches from a bag at the market? National Peach Ice Cream day is July 17, in the height of peach season all over the country. That makes perfect sense. National Peach Pie Day is August 24, which is pushing it in some areas--but we'll let it slide since theoretically people would still be working their way through the stores of peach preserves they put up.

Some of the holidays are a little odd: National Cherry Cobbler Day is May 17, when the only cherries available are from far-southern latitudes; the Fourth of July is typically peak cherry season in most of the United States. National Apple Week is the second week in August, though the only apples available in the South would be storage apples or those shipped in from the Canadian border regions.

And then there are the ones that simply don't make any sense at all, the ones that damn any food-writer claims that the U.S. is returning to seasonal eating.

1. National Apricot Day, January 9

I live in California, the state that produces the apricots for pretty much the entire Western Hemisphere. I am a big proponent of farmers' markets, and there is not an apricot to be seen in the markets until at least April, and more usually May. Perhaps they meant dried apricots?

2. Berry Fresh Month, February

This might be the worst moniker on the list. Berry Fresh Month takes place when the bulk of the country is digging out from under feet of snow. Raspberry canes in New Jersey are still buried, pruned sticks; even here in California, February is the least reliable month for strawberries. This has to be a plot by the Chilean government to get us to eat their mummified exports.

3. National Cherry Month, February (and National Cherry Pie Day, February 22)

When was the last time you saw a fresh cherry in February? Sure, sometimes growers with roomy hothouses force cherry growth out of season in order for there to be fresh fruit for Christmas and New Year's, but that's all gone by February. The much-vaunted cherry blossoms of Washington, D.C. don't show up until late March or early April. More canned filling for the holiday dessert, Ethel.
  4. National Apple Strudel Day, June 17 and National Apple Turnover Day, July 5

Apples are a fall fruit. Even in Alaska, June and July are summer. Washington's, Michigan's and New York's orchards don't start to produce apples until August. Maybe if Apple Strudel Day were at the right time, people could learn that an apple strudel or turnover made from fresh apples blows away its processed counterpart.

5. National Orange Blossom Day, June 27

Where are these magical orange trees that blossom at Midsummer? I don't have an orange tree in my yard, but my lemon tree is currently bursting with blossoms, and I can smell the scent of other trees right now, in April. Florida's season, if I recall correctly from my relatives there, is slightly earlier.

6. National Cherries Jubilee Day, September 24

First we've got National Cherry Month when there are no cherries, and National Cherry Pie Day when the only cherries available are frozen; now, there's National Cherries Jubilee Day a month after the last cherries leave the markets. Making Cherries Jubilee with jarred cherries is not nearly the same thing.

7. National Fig Week, first week of November

This is a festival that can only be celebrated when there are bizarrely late warm periods in California. Figs have two seasons, but the principal season is August and September, with the white figs (those objects of perfumed desire) coming right around Labor Day. By November, the only fresh figs left are Brown Turkey figs that were left on the trees.


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