Fireworks from Japonski Island as seen from old Thompson Harbor in Sitka, Alaska
I had my first chef's day off here on the Fourth of July. It's been roughly six weeks of relentess round the clock work but I still love it. My Independence Day celebration started the night before watching fireworks from a friend of a friend's boat. They started near midnight because that's when it gets dark here during the summer in Alaska. The boat is named the Pure Luck because it was the grand prize in the local Salmon Derby a few years ago. I'm told the prizes aren't so extravagant anymore.
The Fourth itself was warm and sunny, rare in this rainforest. Breakfast was strawberry shortcake made and served at the Swan Lake Senior Center, home to a number of men and women who survived World War II. Four dollars got me not only cake and hot coffee but a shot of patriotism too.
For me the star attraction at the food booths was Grace Larsen, a native Tlinglit woman whom I'd heard since I arrived makes the best fry bread in town. She said she would also bake me salmon heads if I brought them. I get all the wild King Salmon heads I want for free from our fish processor, much to my mother's disbelief. Grace's fry bread was worthy of its legend. I spread one corner of its undulating golden face as advised by her grand-daughters with their homemade strawberry rhubarb jam. Another local in line swore that the only way to go was butter and cinnamon so I tried that on another corner too. I shared one, which was easily three palms wide, with two good friends.
Later that evening on my day off I actually cooked crêpes in one of the booths. I'd volunteered to help out a local home hospice organization. The last time I made crêpes for a crowd was for La Chandeleur at Cordon Bleu in Paris. I could not have imagined then what this next time would be.
I hope the same for the next.