When the Fourth of July rolls around, we do it up with the old-fashioned favorites: weiners, burgers, and watermelon. Cousin Joe brings over a stash of illegal fireworks and we and watch freedom ring in those pretty colors. And of course, we like to knock back a few cold ones, just like George Washington did at the Battle of Gettysburg. But it wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without my granny’s carrot salad—and good God damn, this year, I’m going all out and making the most patriotic parfait of mayonnaise and vegetables you’ve ever seen. You can bet Uncle Sam’s ass on that.
This salad only has three ingredients: carrots, mayonnaise, and American elbow grease. I still shred up those carrots—hand-pulled from the soil of our great country by real, hard-working American farmers—on the same lead shredder my granny used when she was a little girl during the Great Recession. Freedom isn’t free, and neither is mayonnaise, but that doesn’t stop me from buying name brand Miracle Whip. That’s capitalism, and that’s the American way.
I’ve tried out some variations over the years. Added some salsa for Cinco de Mayo. Topped it with a fortune cookie and took that over to my Japanese neighbor when his wife died. But this year, I’ve been hit with a vision. I feel like the world’s greatest artist, Thomas Kinkade, except my paintbrush is a condiment-slathered vegetable.
Picture this: thirteen layers of shredded carrots between thirteen layers of creamy mayonnaise, one for each of the original thirteen counties. The mayonnaise layers will be colored the most beautiful red, white, and blue in salute to the flag of the US of A. To make the mayo really pop, I’m going to dye it with Mountain Dew Code Red and Mountain Dew Voltage. The trick will be not to water it down too much because these colors don’t run.
Thirteen layers of goodness later and I’m going to lift this vase of salad up by a bootstrap and put it in the middle of our kitchen table, where it will become our Fourth of July centerpiece, like one of those classy Edible Arrangements. Then, I’m going to stick in 48 sparklers to represent the great states (excluding the socialist states of California and New York) of our great nation and light this beauty up with a hand over my heart. A video of national treasure Garth Brooks singing “God Bless America” will be playing on my iPad when I put that first, delicious glob in my mouth.
It nearly brings a tear to my eye to imagine my two kids licking that creamy, American goodness off the bottom of a lit sparkler and dabbing a drip off of their chin with some Old Glory napkins from Hobby Lobby. Maybe for dessert, they can even dip in a cherry twin pop or a Snickers bar. Mm-mm! I think of Cousin Joe’s son who’s currently stationed up in Alaska. I’ll mail him a bag. He can’t be on American soil for Independence Day, but he can still taste that sweet freedom salad. Hell, I’ll even take some over to that Japanese neighbor of mine. What culture wouldn’t want to celebrate the Fourth of July?
But you know what means the most to me? Thinking about my granny. I know she’s up there right now in Heaven, quilting a beautiful American flag—the very same beautiful flag that inspired Thomas Edison to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” She’s enjoying some carrot salad herself and she elbows Abe Lincoln in the ribs and says, “Hey, that’s my grandson, and that’s my salad recipe.” And the ghost of Abe Lincoln looks to God, and they look at my glorious carrot salad, and they nod because they both know that everything is going to be just fine.
So grab a scoop, crunch those carrots, slurp that blue mayonnaise, and give thanks for all we have in America. In the words of Ben Franklin, “God bless us, everyone.”