Two hundred and forty-eight

Happy American National Sandwich Day (and Culture Day in Japan)!

I know you’re probably thinking exactly what I was thinking when I heard that “National Sandwich Day” is a holiday: what sandwich company made that one up to sell more sandwiches?!  Apparently it is the 293rd anniversary of the birthday of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, and supposed inventor of the sandwich.  The legend has it that: “this Englishman was said to have been fond of gambling. As the story goes, in 1762, during a 24 hour gambling streak he instructed a cook to prepare his food in such a way that it would not interfere with his game. The cook presented him with sliced meat between two pieces of toast. Perfect! This meal required no utensils and could be eaten with one hand, leaving the other free to continue the game. Sadly, the name of real inventor of the sandwich (be it inventive cook or the creative consumer) was not recorded for posterity.” (foodtimeline.org)

Of course the actual National Sandwich Day in America didn’t start until much later.  The earliest printed reference Food Timeline can find comes from Chases’s Calendar of Annual Events, 1981 (p. 110), although there is no record of where or when it was originally created.  Of course companies like Subway and Ziploc have taken full advantage of the “holiday”, having National Sandwich Day contests and using it as promotion.

Either way, sandwiches are very popular in our world of convenience and eating on-the-go.  According to the National Restaurant Association, the sandwich is the second most popular lunch choice by full-time employees (fruit being number one), with hamburgers being the most popular type of sandwich (informationweek.com).  Whether a marketing tool or not, I love sandwiches, so I don’t have a problem celebrating them today.  So Happy National Sandwich Day!

It is also Japanese Culture Day, held every year on November 3rd to promote, culture, arts and academic endeavor – if you want to eat some sushi and watch a video of the Feudal Lord’s Procession that happens every year in Yumoto Onsen, Hakone.  “A procession of a total of 170 people dressed up as samurai warriors and princesses parades over a distance of some 6 km in the hot spring town.” (Japan National Tourism Organization)

Or you can combine both holidays and eat a Katsu-sando, a tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlet – you can probably figure out why my vegan-adapted body didn’t try this one out) sandwich – recipe here.  Or try to figure out this bizarre Japanese Sandwich Maker game I found online: http://www.girlsgogames.com/game/japanese_sandwich_maker.html

All Souls Day Recap

Spending the entire day at the cemetery (like some do in Mexico) by myself seemed both insulting to the tradition and a little creepy.  I’m sure I’d be kicked out when I started trying to give skull candies to any youngsters passing by while draping colourful home-made garlands over gravestones.  Without a community to support me, I’d have a hard time explaining what I was doing.  And the thought of having a picnic on top of a buried coffin made me feel a little uncomfortable.  I’m also not Catholic and therefore spending the day at church seemed like a wrong choice as well.  I don’t know of anyone who recently passed away who needs praying for to help their journey from Purgatory into Heaven.

I do, however, appreciate the day to remember my family and friends who have passed away.  So, on my way to visit my parents, I stopped in on my grandfather’s grave.  A man I deeply respected, who spent countless hours driving me to and from swimming practice when I was a competitive swimmer as a teenager, was calm and kind and I still hold a special place in my heart for.  I put a chrysanthemum on his grave and spoke aloud to him to thank him for being an inspiration to me and to wish him well wherever he may be.  Sometimes we need to remember where we came from to have guidance of where we are headed to.

As I was going to bed I almost forgot to leave an offering for the spirits in Purgatory who returned to Earth for the night.  I searched my parents’ cupboards and found Ritz crackers and a tomato – not much of an offering, but it will have to do.

Two hundred and forty-seven

Happy All Souls Day!

A Memento Mori marks a tomb in the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. "Memento mori" is Latin for "Remember, you must die." The image reminds us of our own mortality and the judgment to come. Photo © Scott P. Richert (from http://catholicism.about.com/b/2011/10/27/preparing-for-all-souls-day.htm)

All Souls Day (sometimes called ‘The Day of the Dead’ or ‘Feast of All Souls’) is a day of remembrance for those who have passed away.  It follows All Saint’s Day (November 1st) – a celebration of the glories of Heaven and those in Heaven.  All Souls Day is time to remember the dead and pray for those souls in purgatory who needs the prayer to help them achieve full sanctification and moral perfection and gain entrance into Heaven. (This is what I understand, from what I’ve read.  I am not Catholic, so if anyone Catholic would like to add more details, please do so)

There are many customs around the world to celebrate All Souls Day.  “In Mexico, relatives make garlands, wreathes and crosses of real and paper flowers of every color to place on the graves of deceased relatives the morning of All Souls. The family will spend the entire day at the cemetery. The pastor will visit the cemetery, preach and offer prayers for the dead and then bless the individual graves. “Skeleton” candy is given to the children.” (http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0199.html)

Sugar Skulls

Often an altar is made in the home with offerings of food and flowers.  It is believed that souls in Purgatory can return to earth on All Souls Day, so food is left to appease the spirits.  Sometimes a door or window is left open for these souls.  Marigolds and chrysanthemums are often placed on graves; the graves sprinkled with holy water, or in some places in the north-west of France, milk is poured on the graves.  In Italy, they bake cookies called “Ossi di Morto,” or “Bones of the Dead” – almond-type cookies (recipe at http://www.fisheaters.com/customstimeafterpentecost12ac.html)

Religious or not, it’s a good day to remember your own mortality and remember and honour all of your ancestors.  Happy All Souls’ Day!

For more information:

“All Souls Day” – http://all-souls-day.123holiday.net/

“Al Souls’ Day” – Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Souls’_Day

“All Souls Day” – http://www.fisheaters.com/customstimeafterpentecost12ac.html

“All Saints and All Souls” – http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0199.html

World Vegan Day recap

It wasn’t very difficult to celebrate World Vegan Day, having been a vegan for the past month.  I continued reading some of my vegan literature.  I spoke a little to a couple friends about veganism and why make the choice of being vegan.  I also made a delicious warm quinoa, mixed greens, veggies salad that was so easy.  The vegan thing has taught me more about cooking and how to make simple ingredients taste delicious and be nutritious than any other time in my life.  I’m creating recipes now!

Warm Veggie Quinoa Salad

Boil 1/2 cup of vegetable stock (I used part of a veg stock cube in water).  Add 1/4 cup of quinoa and simmer for 15-20 minutes until quinoa has soaked up all the stock.  In a frying pan sauté mushrooms in garlic and olive oil.  Steam a handful of veggies – I used broccoli, asparagus and carrots, which is what I had in my fridge.

In a big bowl put a handful of spinach, arugula and sliced cucumber.  Add the cooked quinoa, sauteed mushrooms, steamed vegetables.  Top off with a bit of your favourite salad dressing (I used honey mustard), salt and pepper.

So delicious and healthy!