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Independence Day Celebratory Meals from Across the Globe

Almost every country in the world has a national holiday that commemorates the date that country came into existence as an independent nation. It is a special day of national pride that each country celebrates with patriotic parades, songs, homage to the founders, and of course, traditional food and drink.

Nationhood is actually a relatively new concept. It all began with The Age of Enlightenment, a movement that began in Europe during the late 1700s. This philosophical movement took science, reason, and inquiry as its guiding principles in order to challenge traditions and reform society. The Enlightenment’s ideals of democracy – equality under the law, separation of church and state, and individual liberty – encouraged colonial independence throughout the world in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The results of these powerful ideas were first reflected in both the American and French revolutions – when a monarchial form of government (kings ruled by “divine right”) was replaced by a republic empowered by the people.

During another “Age”, the European Age of Exploration (1400s-1600s), Europeans, especially Spain, Portugal, Holland, England, and France – sailed the world in search of new lands for their country, indigenous peoples to convert, and riches to be found from gold and the spice trade.

The end result of this ruthless quest for riches was slavery and ultimately uprisings leading to bloody conflicts in all the countries they colonized. Those conflicts eventually led to full-fledged revolutions where colonists were defeated and sent home, leaving a new and self-governing nation behind. The pride each nation has in the people who sacrificed their lives for their liberty is celebrated annually with a day dedicated to national and personal independence.

A big part of those celebrations are gathering with friends and family to eat and drink traditional foods special to their country. MHT offers you menus and recipes that four different countries might serve on their Independence Day. It’s a fun way to change things up a bit while experiencing some new and amazing cuisines.


Haiti became a free country on January 1, 1804. As France’s most profitable colony, its plantation economy depended on a brutal system of slave labor. Following an insurrection that grew to a full-fledged revolution, Haitian slaves along with gens de couleur libres (free people of color) defeated the French military and declared Haiti an independent republic. Haiti was the first black-led republic and the first of many Latin American countries to triumph against European domination.

After freedom, it became time to celebrate and eat. The dish that symbolizes Haitian independence is Soup Joumou, a traditional soup that the French slave masters wouldn’t allow them to eat as they considered it a delicacy. After the Haitians threw the French out, this once forbidden soup became the symbol of independence and freedom.

A Haitian Independence Day Menu

Dish Course Description
Pate’Hand FoodHaitian beef stuffed pastries
Soup JoumouMainBeef and squash stew
PiklizSaladSpicy Pickled cabbage and vegetables
Diri al PwaSide Coconut rice and beans
Blan ManjeDessertCreamy coconut pudding

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Brazil celebrates its independence from Portugal in 1823 on September 7th. Brazil is the only country in South America that is not Spanish-speaking. This is the result of a 1500s treaty between Spain and Portugal that split the newly discovered Americas between them. Portugal claimed the huge territory in the west, Brazil, and Spain everything to the west of that.

Brazilian cuisine is a unique contribution of indigenous peoples, imported slaves, and Portuguese explorers. Brazil’s national dish, feijoada, is basically Portuguese bean stew made with Brazilian black beans and leftover parts of the pig. Over the years, sausage, ham, and other meats have replaced the pig snouts, hoofs, and ears of yore. The meal that Brazilians eat on Independence Day is an ultimate combination of historical cuisines that represent the country. Feijoada and pão de queijo have their roots in Portugal and farofa and couve a mineira from Africa. The Cachaça (fermented palm sugar alcohol), the basis of the national drink, Caipirinha, is made only in Brazil.

A Brazilian Independence Day Celebration Menu

Dish Course Description
Pão de QueijoHand FoodCheese bread
CaipirinhaDrinkCachaça alcohol & lime cocktail
FeijoadaMainBlack bean and pork stew
FarofaSideFried manioc grains
Couve a MineiraVegetable Collard greens
BrigadierosDessertChocolate fudge balls in sprinkles

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The March First Movement, also called Samil Independence Movement, was a series of demonstrations for Korean national independence from Japan that began on March 1, 1919 in the Korean capital city of Seoul and soon spread throughout the country. The movement was begun by Korean cultural and religious leaders who, after almost 10 years of Japanese rule, drew up a Korean “Proclamation of Independence” and then organized a mass demonstration for that day. On the appointed day, the leaders, hoping to bring international pressure on Japan to end its colonial rule over Korea, signed and read their proclamation in Seoul and all over the country. Centuries of suppressed anti-Japanese feelings were released in one great explosion, producing mass demonstrations for years in many parts of the country and forming the largest national protest rallies against foreign domination in Korean history.

This special day is celebrated every year with parades, readings, songs, and endless food. Traditionally cold noodles and hot stews are eaten. Big family and neighborhood parties are held all over Korea, north and south. Lots of hand foods are usually served and accompanied by a never-ending stream of steamed rice, marinated beef dishes, and the pickled vegetable salads called belacan.

A Korean Independence Day Celebration Menu

DishCourse Description
Jumuk BapHand FoodCoated rice balls
GalbiMainMarinated beef short ribs
SsamjangCondimentSpicy BBQ Dip
White RiceSide Steamed short grain rice
KimchiiPicklesSpicy fermented cabbage
Kongnamul-muchimSaladCold marinated sprouts
Sigeumchi-namulSaladSesame spinach salad
HotteokDessertSweet stuffed pancake

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Greek Independence Day is celebrated every March 25 since the start of the War of Greek Independence began in 1821. Greece had been part of the Ottoman Empire since 1453 and was eventually separated years after the war began with the help of Russia, Great Britain, France.

Left behind by the Turks and Egyptians of the Ottoman Empire were the savory and sweet phyllo pastries that are responsible for famous Greek dishes like spanakopita and Greek baklava. Synonymous with Greek Independence Day celebrations is Bakaliaros & Skordalia, a wonderful combination of batter-fried codfish and mashed garlic potato dip.

A Greek Independence Day Celebration Menu

Dish Course Description
SpanakopitaHand FoodFlaky spinach and feta phyllo pies
LahanosalataSaladCabbage salad
BakaliarosMainBatter fried codfish
SkordaliaSideMashed garlic potato dip
PrasorizoSideRice with leeks
BaklavaDessertPhyllo pastry with honey and nuts

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