“Filipinos don’t say ‘I love you.’ They say ‘Are you hungry?'”
Lidia Celebrates America: Freedom & Independence features chef Lidia Bastianich and her plans to mark the Fourth of July by diving into the heart of the traditions of a few different ethnic groups which comprise our great big melting pot.
She first travels to Monticello, former home of Thomas Jefferson, in order to meet some soon-to-be American citizens. Lidia next is a guest at the home of Jacques Pepin (Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home) for his celebration of Bastille Day. Her travels then take her to Galveston, Texas, where Anna Deavere Smith (Nurse Jackie) introduces her to the holiday of Juneteenth. She consequently meets Alec Mara (Ugly Betty) to discover some Filipino-American traditions before finally returning to Monticello for the naturalization ceremony.
During Lidia Celebrates America: Freedom & Independence, there’s less of an emphasis on what’s being cooked in terms of specific recipes than there is on the cultural importance of the dishes. Tying each segment together is storytelling paired with food preparation. Many of the people profiled discuss their backgrounds and share stories as opposed to detailing the recipes for the food.
Lidia Celebrates America: Freedom & Independence is a different take on the very American holiday of the Fourth of July. It was far more educational than I expected, with the emphasis on the different ethnic traditions more so than a straight-up fireworks and apple pie kind of party. I learned more than I thought I would and find this show easy to recommend for anyone looking for a different take on the celebration. It’s a quick hour with each subject providing an overview of their stories and traditions as opposed to an in-depth history. Still, it’s an excellent jumping off point for those interested in learning about different celebrations, foods, and histories centered on Independence Day.
Video and audio were simple streams, with a standard palette and definition for the video and stereo for the audio. If this had been more of a cooking show, I may have quibbled about the lack of HD but as it stands both audio and video were keeping in line with a currently broadcasting program on PBS.
Special features include extended scenes and printable recipes of the dishes shown. The latter is nice since the creation of the recipes was heavily abbreviated.
You don’t need to buy Lidia Celebrates America: Freedom & Independence unless you are intrigued by the recipes presented. You won’t find the recipes within the show itself so your best bet is a purchase in order to print them out.