Around the Fourth of July, a few families near the Mexican border devote their lives to selling sparklers
When it came time to name Nelson Zamora, his paternal Mexican grandmother had just one request: give him a name that sounds American, but is easy to pronounce in Spanish. Like many Americans with roots in Mexico, Nelson and his wife Cynthia Fuentes straddle two worlds, even if they mostly stay on one side of the border.
In Mission, Texas, a small city not far from the southern border where Nelson and Cynthia live, the demarcation between the U.S. and Mexico can seem fluid. Travelers pass back and forth, sometimes legally through a checkpoint and sometimes in the dark of night through the waters of the Rio Grande. Cynthia has seen new arrivals around town, mothers with babies looking dazed and others desperately in need of water. She helps when she can.
Every summer since 1998, Cynthia and Nelson, who were both born in Texas, have operated a stall selling fireworks for the Fourth of July. Fireworks are illegal in the state, except at this time of year and just before New Year’s Eve.
Working on 20 percent commission, the couple can earn as much as $3,000 a season. “We’ve made good money,” says Cynthia. “It’s kept us coming back.”
When they’re not selling fireworks, Cynthia runs a home-based business making and selling piñatas. Nelson drives a forklift for a citrus company, seasonal work that won’t begin again until August. To accommodate their daughter and two grandchildren who’ve come with them to the fireworks stall this year, Cynthia and Nelson built a makeshift camper in the bed of their pickup truck. They are required to stay on site 24 hours a day.
“We brought our AC from the house, the television and the DVD for the kids,” says Cynthia. “It’s fun. We’re all together and we’re talking.”
On July 4th, after the last customers have gone, Cynthia and Nelson will buy some fireworks for themselves, close up the stall and go celebrate American independence as a family.
Did you know the United States shares a birthday with Nathaniel Hawthorne, Calvin Coolidge, Malia Obama and these other famous Americans?
This articleoriginally appeared on Food & Wine.
The Fourth of July is right around the corner! Get some grilling practice this weekend with these ten incredible recipes for ribs.
1. Molasses-Smoked Baby Back Ribs
What’s Tim Byres’s secret to delicious ribs? Rubbing them with a seasoned beer-based mop before cooking them in a foil packet ensures the meat is flavorful and moist.
2. Sir Winston’s Favorite Short Ribs
This savory-sweet Korean-style ribs recipe is quick and easy to make after marinating overnight.
3. Cumin-and-Coriander Grilled Lamb Ribs
“Lamb ribs are the most inexpensive and unsung part of the lamb,” says Tom Mylan, who flavors them with Middle Eastern seasonings.
4. Ribs with Hot-Pepper-Jelly Glaze
This recipe calls for three types of ribs, but it’s just as fantastic with one.
5. Grilled Short Ribs with Smoky Blackberry Barbecue Sauce
An easy blackberry sauce flavored with adobo chiles takes these ribs to another level.
6. Vadouvan-Spiced Lamb Ribs
Vadouvan, a French curry-esque spice blend, adds terrific flavor to these tender ribs.
7. Spiced Pork Ribs
These smoky, Mexican-style ribs feature a super-simple rub.
8. Grilled Apple-Marinated Short Ribs
Instead of braising, these ribs are marinated overnight in a mix of apple juice, lemon juice and soy sauce so they’re sweet, salty and tangy.
9. Grilled Short Ribs with Anchovy Vinaigrette
These thinly sliced short ribs are perfect for quick grilling.
10. Cumin-Glazed Ribs with Avocado-Pineapple Salsa
Susan Feniger’s sweet ribs are delicious with a grapefruity IPA.
MORE: 19 Best BBQ Cities
This article originally appeared on Food & Wine.
Here are 15 amazing burgers from F&W’s grilling experts and star chefs like Bobby Flay.
1. Beef Burgers with Peanut–Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
Bobby Flay’s incredible burgers are topped with a sweet-smoky sauce made with tomato puree, ancho chile powder, chipotle in adobo sauce and peanut butter.
2. Bacon Burgers with Cilantro-Yogurt Sauce
These complex-tasting burgers feature bacon, scallions, mint and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
3. Thai Tuna Burgers with Ginger-Lemon Mayonnaise
Tod man pla, a Thai fried white fish patty, was the inspiration for these delicious tuna burgers.
4. Red Chili Burgers
Creamy Crescenza-Stracchino cheese tops these fantastic burgers.
5. Fresh and Juicy Veggie Burgers
These are the ultimate veggie burgers.
6. Barbecue–Glazed Turkey Burgers
Gwyneth Paltrow loves these burgers topped with Swiss cheese and pickled jalapeños.
7. Tuna Niçoise Burgers
Turn the classic French salad into a fantastic seafood burger.
8. Caprese Burgers
Basil, tomato and mozzarella star in these juicy burgers.
9. Crispy Quinoa Sliders
Serve these crispy patties alongside a salad, or simply as fantastic mini vegetarian burgers.
10. Spicy 50/50 Burgers
Michael Symon’s spicy cheeseburgers feature a delectable mix of sausage and ground beef.
11. Lamb Burgers with Green Harissa
These terrific burgers get their bright flavor thanks to a harissa sauce made with a mix of hot and mild chiles.
12. Sausage Burgers with Sriracha-Honey-Mustard Sauce
The spicy-sweet sauce and ground pork–sausage blend make these burgers extra-flavorful.
13. Triple Pork Burgers with Quick Cucumber Kimchi
Intensely seasoned with Asian ingredients, these pork burgers almost taste like dumpling filling.
14. Blue Ribbon Barbecue Chicken Cheeseburgers
The combination of sweet–spicy barbecue sauce and smoky bacon makes this the ideal chicken burger.
15. Black Bean Burgers
This excellent black bean burger recipe yields thick, meaty patties that stay tender.
MORE: Best Burgers in the U.S.
Rising gas prices and food prices mean a more expensive barbecue+ READ ARTICLE
It’s a good thing the unemployment rate is in decline, because celebrating the country’s birthday just got more expensive.
This year, over 40 million Americans will be traveling at least 50 miles to celebrate the Fourth of July. With the average price of gas currently at 3.69, up 20 cents from one year ago, the journey will hit drivers hard. According to AAA, this holiday will be the most expensive for drivers since 2008.
Add that the cost of barbecue foods and beer are all up since last year and party planning becomes more costly.
But worry not — hot dogs are cheaper than this time last year, as are soda and chips, so at least the kids will have something to celebrate.
Rising food prices, along with the highest Independence Day gas prices since 2008, make for a more expensive celebration.+ READ ARTICLE
Eating champions expand their stomachs far beyond normal size
Tomorrow will likely mark competitive eater Joey Chestnut’s eighth straight year winning the Nathan’s Famous 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest.
Chestnut is now 30 years old and weighs 230 pounds—not an especially large man. In fact, many serious competitive eaters appear to be relatively thin and healthy.
So how do they eat that many hot dogs and stay healthy? And is it safe?
Not much research has been done about competitive eating. But several doctors from the University of Pennsylvania did an experiment for a National Geographic special, the results of which were published in the Journal of Roentgenology. They wanted to find out what happened to competitive eaters’ stomachs, so they compared two men: one champion eater and one non-competitive-eating man—the control—who simply had a “healthy appetite.”
The men were asked to consume as many hot dogs as they could in 12 minutes. The researchers noted that after eating the hot dogs, the competitive eater’s stomach “appeared as a massively distended, food-filled sac occupying most of the upper abdomen.” There was also “little or no gastric peristalsis,” the squeezing motion that normally helps the stomach break down food.
Marc Levine, one of the study’s authors and a gastrointestinal radiologist the University of Pennsylvania, said he was amazed by the amount of food that fit in the speed eater’s stomach.
“This was not some inherent skill he had since he was a child,” says Levine. “For many months, he would practice by eating larger and larger volumes of food. … He was able to overcome the satiety reflex, and once he did that, the stomach overcame the peristalsis activity so it was able to accept an unlimited amount of food.”
The satiety reflex is what people experience when they eat enough food to trigger the neural pathways in the brain that tell the body it is full. It’s also what triggers people to vomit.
Major League Eating—the world body that oversees all professional eating contests—places a high priority on safety, according to MLE chair George Shea. Emergency medical technicians are present at all official contests and there’s safety page on its website.
“We discourage anyone doing contests without emergency medical technicians,” says George Shea, chair of MLE. “We keep the duration of the contest short. It’s in the sweet spot so they’re not stuffing their faces too much but not going too long.”
While Shea says he doesn’t know of anyone who’s ever choked during an official eating competition, other competitive eating injuries have been recorded.
And while no one knows exactly how stretching their stomachs will affect competitive eaters years down the line, Levine and his team predicted some scary consequences.
If the stomach stretches enough that it can’t get back to its original size, they predict this could potentially cause “intractable nausea and vomiting, necessitating a partial or total gastrectomy to relieve their symptoms and restore their ability to eat.”
But at least for now the champions are trained to avoid getting sick. For other people, Shea has this advice: “Don’t try this at home.”
Amid all the fireworks and barbecue smoke this July 4, consider pausing for a moment to reflect on the one our founding fathers called the Creator.
July 4 is a religious holiday. For this insight, thank John F. Kennedy.
On July 4, 1946, Kennedy — then 29 years old, the Democratic nominee for a Massachusetts Congressional seat, and still a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve — was the featured speaker at the City of Boston’s Independence Day celebration. He spoke at Faneuil Hall, the red-brick building where long ago the colonists had gathered to protest taxes imposed by King George III and his Parliament.
Kennedy began by talking not about taxes, or about the British, or about the consent of the governed, but about religion. “The informing spirit of the American character has always been a deep religious sense. Throughout the years, down to the present, a devotion to fundamental religious principles has characterized American though and action,” he said.
For anyone wondering what this had to do with Independence Day, Kennedy made the connection explicit. “Our government was founded on the essential religious idea of integrity of the individual. It was this religious sense which inspired the authors of the Declaration of Independence: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.’”
It was a theme that Kennedy would return to during the 1960 presidential campaign, when, in a speech at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, he described the Cold War as “a struggle for supremacy between two conflicting ideologies; freedom under God versus ruthless, Godless tyranny.” And again in his inaugural address, on January 20, 1961, in Washington, D.C., when he said, “The same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe — the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”
Whatever Kennedy’s motives were as a politician for emphasizing this point, on the historical substance he had it absolutely correct. The Declaration of Independence issued from Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, included four separate references to God. In addition to the “endowed by their Creator” line mentioned by JFK in his July 4 speech, there is an opening salute to “the laws of nature’s God,” an appeal to “the Supreme Judge of the World,” and a closing expression of “firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.”
A signer of the declaration, Samuel Adams, writing to a friend on July 9, wished the declaration had been issued earlier: “If it had been done nine months ago we might have been justified in the sight of God.”
George Washington, announcing the Declaration of Independence to the troops in a General Order dated July 9, wrote, “The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavour to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country….knowing that now the peace and safety of his Country depends (under God) solely on the success of our arms.”
The theology of the country’s founding has tended to get lost in the decades since Kennedy’s death, to the point where if someone unveiled the document anew today, hard-core separation-of-church-and-state types might even see it as a violation of the First Amendment’s clause prohibiting Congress from establishing a religion. The Declaration’s concept of God-given rights certainly is not without its flaws. God, alas, tends to be quite reticent when it comes to weighing in on disagreements about the definition of rights. Some extremists invoke God’s name while attempting to deprive others of rights. Atheists and agnostics, of whom there are increasing numbers these days, are left out.
For all that, there are some signs that a recovery is brewing of the theology of July 4. The Tea Party movement, after all, is not only a call for smaller government (“taxed enough already”), but also a conscious effort to recall the vision of the founders, of the original Boston Tea Party. Dave Brat, the economics professor who upset Eric Cantor in a recent Republican primary for to represent Virginia’s seventh congressional district, said during his campaign, “a belief in God and the faith of our Founders leads to strong moral fiber. That’s probably the most important ingredient in this country.”
So amid all the fireworks and barbecue smoke this July 4, consider pausing for a moment to reflect on the one our founding fathers called the Creator. As Kennedy realized, the American Revolution — and thus the country we live in today — started with God, and with the Founders’ belief in rights that are his gift to us. Whatever your religious views, or lack of them, if you are an American, it’s at least worth understanding the idea on which our nation was founded.
Ira Stoll, author of Samuel Adams: A Life and JFK, Conservative, is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com.
Happy Birthday, America+ READ ARTICLE
Well here’s a birthday present America can do without. A tropical depression that formed off the coast of Florida Monday night could become the season’s very first hurricane … and it could move north along the East Coast just in time for the 4th of July, raining on literal parades in its wake.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the depression is expected to become a tropical storm — named Arthur —Tuesday. AccuWeather predicts that the conditions will be at its worst on Thursday into Friday around Delmarva and New Jersey. Independence Day hotspots Long Island and Cape Cod will experience the most bad weather during the day Friday and into the evening.
“The system, which is forecast to attain tropical storm status and could become a hurricane, will hug the coast and could even make landfall in North Carolina before turning out to the Northeast late in the week,” AccuWeather’s Dan Kottlowski said.
Although if the storm does move northeast as predicted, firework conditions could improve from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia and New York City.
This has been a week of bad weather. Severe storms swept across the Midwest to the Great lakes Monday, resulting in strong winds, reported tornadoes, heavy rain, several injuries, and two deaths.