Mark Your Calendars for These National Food Days
In the last few weeks of school; when the weather’s getting seriously cold and finals are piling up, we all probably secumb to a bit of stress eating. If you need an excuse for a special meal, here’s our guide to the food days you can celebrate just before finals season.
November 26: National Cake Day
You can have your cake and eat it too, really. On November 26, buy yourself a double dose of cake, stash the second serving, then proceed to gobble the one in front of you. It is Thanksgiving Day after all, and we have cake to be thankful for. Cake is the centerpiece of every big life event, from birthdays to graduations to weddings. We just can’t seem to celebrate anything without it. There’s a cake for every occasion and some would say there’s always an occasion for cake. You’ve got carrot cake, which tries to be healthy despite cream cheese frosting; red velvet cake tries to differentiate itself from good ol’ chocolate; angel and devil’s food cake come by the box; cheesecakes command a fan base more powerful than that of cheese and cake combined; cupcakes make it possible to have a whole cake to yourself and provide the perfect cake to frosting ratio. You don’t have to go far to find a good cake, as Danish Pastry House (corner of Boston Ave and Winthrop St) and Modern Pastry (Medford Square) have cakes to please crowds, or just yourself.
November 28: National French Toast Day
French toast may not necessarily be haute cuisine, but if it’s the most French food you can eat on that college budget (no one is judging), or if you want French food that you can whip up in your own kitchen with minimal ingredients, French toast is just that.
It’s the perfect use for stale bread and leftover egg, and a breakfast or brunch worthy of lazy weekend mornings, especially on National French Toast Day since it falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving Thursday and Black Friday, when you just want to step back a bit from all the holiday madness.
French toast is best made with thick or sweet breads such as Texas-sliced toast, challah, or brioche, but some versions break the mold and will use focaccia or even bagel slices.
To try some focaccia French toast, pictured above, take a short trip to Flour Bakery + Café (locations in Cambridge and Boston) where they make a not overly sweet, eggy French toast with their house-made focaccia. Or, if you’re not picky, grab a box of frozen French toast in the breakfast aisle of your nearby supermarket for French toast at any time of day.
November 29: National Chocolate Day
If you read the latest research, chocolate intake is now being compared to chemical dependency – it can have that strong of an effect on your mind and body, especially if you’re not already a chocoholic. It’s the stuff of romantic gifts, festivals, and some of the most decadent deserts, and without it, many of the brands we have come to love or depend on – such as Hershey’s, Nestle, etc. – would not exist. On a positive note, chocolate is now being touted as healthy (the flavonoids in the cocoa, not the sugar or milk, so darker is better) and that only gives us even more reason to eat it on November 29 (as well as every other day of the year). Among white, milk, and dark chocolate, milk is the most popular, dark is the healthiest, and white may not actually be chocolate, but no one is judging when you celebrate National Chocolate Day. With so many forms of chocolate on the market, one of the best ways to enjoy chocolate other than in solid form is in a luscious cup of hot chocolate.
If you’re a real chocoholic, you might skip the sugary hot cocoa mix and indulge in full-bodied “drinking chocolate” that is just melted chocolate and steamed milk. It’s not called drinking chocolate for no reason, and unlike hot cocoa it might arrive in a shot glass or espresso cup instead of a mug. The best drinking chocolate this side of the river arguably comes from L.A. Burdick, where they take their chocolate very seriously. Order a Burdick blend in milk or dark, and experience unadulterated decadence in every sip.
December 1: National Pie Day
Some pies are sweet, some pies are savory, and some are both. Pies can refer to everything from fruity pies to quiches to deep-dish pizza, but since National Pizza Day (November 12) is reserved for the savory variety, let’s assume that December 1st is reserved for the sweet pies, with a crust and maybe a lattice or streusel top.
There are actually two times during the year when sweet pie is recognized, the other being Pi Day on 3/14, but December 1st is right in the midst of the holiday season when pie eating is at a seasonal high, so there shouldn’t be a shortage of pies (or there might be, depending on how high the demand is).
Arguably the most famous pie at the moment is Momofuku Milk Bar’s Crack Pie in NYC, pictured above. With an oatmeal crust and dense, buttery filling, no wonder it became the pie everyone’s talking about. But a little closer to home, there lies Petsi Pies in the Harvard Square vicinity, serving up homemade pies by the slice and scrumptious whole pies for the family. Taste the Mississippi Mud Pie and Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pie, or any pies available that day, because they do have a history of selling out.
December 4: National Cookie Day
On the back of every bag of Nestlé chocolate chips is the recipe for the classic Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies. In my mind, this recipe was the birth of the classic chocolate chip cookie, which is turning around 85 years old this year. The chocolate-chip cookie and its countless other cookie siblings were probably a mainstay of our childhood lunchboxes and persistently on the shelves of our pantries. In college, they can be delivered to our doors by Insomnia Cookies and eaten fresh out of the oven at baking club meetings (check out the Baking Collective on campus!). Something as simple as a cookie that has grown up with us but that we never tire of or outgrow is worth celebrating this December 4th. One particularly good cookie I had recently was a salted chocolate chip cookie from Thinking Cup (locations in downtown and North End) that really hit the spot and cured my post-midterm blues. How can you resist large cookies just sitting in glass cookie jars right at eye-level? You don’t. Of course December 4th isn’t just reserved for Chocolate Chip Cookies (which have their own special day on the 15th of May), so you can celebrate National Cookie Day with ones baked from home, or if you’re of the perpetually-soft persuasion, pick up the commercial kind down at the supermarket.
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