Fourth of July Foolery

As sometimes happens in life when digging deeper into a question, one finds that people the world over have more in common than not. Such was my experience preparing for this year’s fourth of July celebration. I wondered how many countries other than the United States and the Russian Federation have flags of red, white and blue? Answer: a lot! A whole lot- the list was endless. O.K., so it’s a popular color combo. It was a surprise for me, though the list narrows down if the criteria is further limited to flags with stripes that exclusively feature red, white and blue.

It just so happens that once again Americans and Russians find common ground, this time in their flags. Both are striped and feature the same three colors. The flag of Imperial Russia up to the revolution of 1917 was divided into three, horizontal stripes, white on top, blue in the middle and red on the bottom. The color placement was said to have reflected Russia’s social system during the times of the monarchy. White representing God, blue – the tsar, and red – the peasants. This flag was re-adopted by the Russian Federation on August 22, 1991, now the Russians’ national flag day. Unlike the U.S. however,¬† it is not a federal holiday and a day-off, like July 4th is for us.

You’d think that every flag must be steeped in symbolism. Yet research showed me otherwise.What emerges instead are the many controversies as to the meaning of symbols used, colors, placement of objects, etc. That seems more common than not in the world of flag symbology.

Take Old Glory, for example. Betsy Ross did not check with a color consultant or have any epiphanies about red, white and blue. My bet is that those were the colored fabrics the dear woman had on hand. She must have used what was readily available since we needed a flag in an hurry! Maybe that’s where we got our American genetic tendency to rush. To get back on track….

We officially adopted our version of The Red, White and Blue in 1777, but its colors had no particular meaning . However, according to Charles Thompson, Secretary to the Continental Congress, the colors of the Great Seal did. The white of the stripes stands for purity and innocence, the red for hardiness and valour, and the blue for vigilance, perseverance and justice. These remain noble goals for us even today. Additional meaning emerged in 1977 when the House of Representatives recorded that the star symbolized the heavens and the divine to which man has aspired from the beginning of time. The stripe symbolizes the light and rays from the sun.

As a Russian American I was inspired to create a dessert with symbolism for this July 4th honoring the three colors of our flags while acknowledging¬† my family’s sweet tooth. It’s my pleasure to present to you Fourth of July Foolery.

Ingredients: You’ll need a good raspberry sauce like Fran’s or a homemade one. Next, buy or make some vanilla bean ice cream, and finally, get some fresh blueberries, whipping cream and maraschino cherries (preferably those without harmful chemicals). Directions:Ladle raspberry sauce, diluted some rum into the bottom of a dessert dish or glass coupe. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Stud with blueberries. Top with a large rosette or swirl of lightly sweetened hand-whipped cream and top with a maraschino cherry. For additional drama, serve to the table with a sparkler.

Largess and abundance prevail in both cultures. So where one dessert would do, two would be better! Check in tomorrow for dessert #2. Both desserts will be featured in my upcoming e-book to be released on Amazon mid-July. Happy Fourth, Maria


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