Apricots are my favorite fruit, so when I learned today was National Apricot Day, I was excited! But then reality hit: it’s January 9. There’s snow in the forecast. Apricots couldn’t be more out of season if they tried. Which begs the question, why celebrate a delicious fruit in the dead of winter, when its peak growing season is five or six months out? Some of these holidays make perfect sense. National Champagne Day on December 31? You couldn’t ask for a more appropriate day to celebrate champagne. And National Whipped Cream Day coincides with the founder of Reddi Wip’s birthday. But apricots in January? Talk about a head scratcher…
One of our Facebook followers asked yesterday, Who is creating these days? Lord please dont tell us its hundreds of food lobbyists convincing politicians to vote for these food days. I think it might be interesting to know the history behind some of these days, follow the money as they say…
Great question, Adrian. I’d been wondering the same thing. I did a bit of research, and guess what? You were pretty much on the mark.
Here’s the scoop: the President has the authority to declare a commemorative day by proclamation. The job is not all foreign affairs and let’s-kill-bin-Laden blather! Constituents (including trade associations and P.R. firms) introduce petitions to honor certain foods, and the Senate has the power to issue resolutions proclaiming commemorative holidays. Governors, mayors, and state legislatures can do the same. Once the observance day has been authorized, the petitioner handles all promotion. Well, the petitioner, and also your friendly neighborhood food holidays blog. 🙂
So, if you’d like to see a day set aside to honor your favorite food, simply call your congressman!
Back to apricots. The fruit, a relative of the plum, dates back to ancient times. It is believed to have originated in Armenia, a country best known today for (nerd alert!) producing really good chess players. The Chinese, in their ongoing quest for world domination, insist the apricot is native to their country, and India says no, you are wrong, we cultivated apricots way back in 3000 BC. And by the way, are you happy with your current cell phone provider? Regardless of where apricot trees first blossomed, they were exported to continental climates around the globe, where they gained popularity. Alexander the Great brought them to Greece, Roman General Lucullus introduced them to Europe, and English settlers exported them to America.
Apricots contain more carotenoids – cancer-fighting antioxidants – than any other food. Not only are they good for your heart, they also lower cholesterol levels, and – best of all! – are considered an aphrodisiac in Europe. Shakespeare was well aware of this (the horny ol’ coot) and referenced it in a scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream:
Be kind and courteous to this gentleman.Hop in his walks and gambol in his eyes.Feed him with apricoks and dewberries,With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries.The honey bags steal from the humble-bees,And for night tapers crop their waxen thighsAnd light them at the fiery glowworms’ eyesTo have my love to bed and to arise.
Without the benefit of fresh fruit (since it’s JANUARY!! The apricot petitioner really screwed up with this one), we had to use dried apricots. Which is fine, they’re still pretty tasty – a nice combination of sweet and tart. Tara had a recipe for white chocolate chip and apricot cookies, so she baked up a batch last night and – no kidding – I took my first bite at 6:30 this morning. In the shower, no less. What can I say? I couldn’t wait. I love apricots that much.
- Apricot crop damaged by heat (abc.net.au)