Food Calendar

What's happening when and where in the world of food.

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May

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    This is it, the big day. All across America right now, people are visiting, phoning and emailing friends and neighbours to exchange their bread pudding recipes.
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    May Day celebrations were a big holiday during the Middle Ages. May Poles, the trunks of very tall trees, would be painted.
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    The 2nd of May is marked as Truffles Day. The reference is to the truffles that are like mushrooms, rather than the chocolate ones.
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    The 5th of May commemorates a Mexican victory over the French army in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla. Puebla is a state in Mexico.
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    In the northern hemisphere, it's now warm enough to do roast a leg of lamb out on your backyard grill, especially if you have a spit. And in Australia, where it's autumn, today is a good excuse for an all-out roast dinner.
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    On the 10th May 2004, Long John Silver's restaurant served free jumbo shrimp to customers. They were making good on their offer (made on 15 January 2004) to serve free shrimp if NASA found (which it did) conclusive evidence of oceans on Mars.
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    It's hard to know why anyone would pick May for Apple Pie Day, when apples are not in season (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least) and even the longer-storage ones are fast approaching their best-before date -- though maybe the idea is to use up the ones that are on the edge of going manky and disguise them in a pie. Perhaps this time of year was chosen for those places in the Southern Hemisphere, such as Australia and New Zealand, where apple harvesting season is just getting into swing.
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    The first American Mother's Day proclamation was in 1870 in Boston by a Julia Ward Howe. Her intent was that women's peace groups would use the day to call for disarmament and peace.
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    St Honoré is the Patron Saint of bakers. He is also the Patron Saint of confectioners, pastry chefs, flour sellers, and candlemakers.
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    The 17th of May is Constitution Day in Norway. It is a very big event in Norway, celebrated even in small villages.
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    When's the last time you have Devil's Food Cake? Maybe Devil's Food Cake seems quaint now, at a time when cakes have to be professionally decorated and be excessive in everything to even register on our consciousness, but for decades, it was the big thing in desserts, a real treat to make and show off, and to enjoy. Up until the 1970s, it was the ultimate in chocolate cake, and usually made at home.
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    International Pickle Week is a 10-day long promotional period held in America each year, usually in May. It spans the American Memorial Day weekend, which is the start to summer in the US.
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    The 21st of May is Strawberries 'n Cream Day. You can celebrate with fresh strawberries, or make up a dish by folding strawberry jam or thawed frozen strawberries into a whipped cream.
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    Celebrate Vanilla Pudding Day by whipping one up from scratch or from a powdered mix, or by just whipping open a pudding pak on the run. Vanilla pudding is not really known in England, the closest thing is custard, but never mind: they have crème caramel, double cream and blanc mange.
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    Victoria Day celebrates the birth of Queen Victoria on Monday, 24 May 1819. It is celebrated in both Scotland and in Canada.
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    Taffy Day is officially recognized in America by the National Confectioner's Association of America. This differs from National English Toffee Day, which they say is 8th January.
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    Escargot had their heyday in the 1970s, when everyone ate them with garlic butter and bought the Escargot dishes for home use (but couldn't actually bring themselves to go the next step and buy the slimy little critters for use in their own kitchen.) You may wish to finally try cooking up Escargot in garlic sauce at home. Mind you, you could simmer golf balls in that sauce and they would taste good.
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    The 28th of May is Hamburger Day. White Castle hamburger chain in America hosts the Crave Time Cook Off each May.
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    Shavuot is a Jewish harvest festival. The date in the Gregorian calendar varies by year; it marks when the first of the harvests of wheat and fruit were brought to the Temple in Jerusalem.
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