It may make absolutely no sense to some people, but whenever we plan a meal, we start with dessert. Instead of focusing on the main dish, the usual place to begin putting a menu together, we decide how we’d like the meal to end and then move on to the rest of the food.
Happily, for our Fourth of July bash, we aren’t faced with entertaining a city like Baltimore, where bakers whipped together a 35-ton birthday cake to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial in 1976. We knew we could come up with something just as festive and decided anything made with blueberries would not only be patriotic, it would be a perfect ending to a summer meal.
Blueberries, after all, have been growing in this country for a long time. By the time the colonists arrived, Native Americans had been eating berries year round. According to historians, it was the cooking tips and sun-dried berries Native Americans gave the colonists that helped them make it through their first winter.
So blueberry pie was the first thing that came to mind. We took the idea a step further and decided a homemade pie, topped with a lattice crust to show off the berries, would have the effect of a culinary Roman candle—a colorful, all-American finale for our Fourth of July festivities.
—By Jean Kressy