Summer is here. Meaning on June 20, the Summer Solstice, the calendar officially says summer is here. In the meantime, the end of school, the arrival of strawberries, and the launch of grilling season tell us summer starts when it feels like summer. So it’s not like we need special little holidays for food to give us a lift, but there are some good ones in June. Click through the gallery to see what’s on store.
Sara Bir is Paste’s contributing food editor. Her goal for the month of June is to get dirt under her nails every single day. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @Sausagetarian.
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Oh my god, it's National Hot Dog Month. Did you know that hot dogs are God's gift to humans? Says me. I adore them, even crummy hot dogs. It's also National Papaya Month, which means you have to go to Papaya King or (my preference) Gray's Papaya if at all possible, and bathe in the exquisite pleasure of washing a salty, greasy hot dog with onions and mustard down with sweet and smooth papaya juice. It's a match made in heaven.
Johnn CC BY SA
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June 3: National Donut Day. It's always the first Friday in June. An excuse to eat donuts is endlessly welcome, but there's a poignant significance to National Donut Day, which was created by the Salvation Army during the Great Depression as a fundraiser, as well as to commemorate the efforts by women volunteers during World War I. From such noble beginnings we now have a national mania for fancy donuts; as this gallery of very pretty donuts proves, in recent years the humble donut has entered the pantheon of preciousness – and why not? Donuts make people happy. They go really great with coffee. They appeal to humans of all ages. Nearly every culture the world over that deep-fries things has their own donut-type pastry. Today is a day of doughy solidarity.
vnysia CC BY-ND
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Ramadan begins on June 6. Muslims all over the world will observe by fasting from before dawn until sunset. Iftar is the fast-breaking meal, and it traditionally starts off with fruit, dates, milk, juices, and water. What dishes come after that depends on where you are, but it's a joyful occasion of fellowship, family, and community.
raasiel CC BY
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Cicada mania! There are two types of people: those who think bugs are gross, and those who are totally game to eat them. Those in the latter camp and live in eastern Ohio and northern West Virginia region are in the catbird seat this month, when Brood V of 17-year cicadas emerge by the millions from their underground tunnels at the roots of trees and molt their exoskeletons. Adult cicadas live for only two to four weeks, so if you want to cook some up, don't dally. Look, it happens only once every 17 years. Live a little! To those who might pause before consuming something that's been underground for nearly shy of two decades, I get it, but that's not keeping me from indulging in the privilege of entomophagy. Then again, I also count Gray's Papaya as one of my favorite restaurants, so perhaps I'm not the person you should be listening to. Biologist Jenna Jadin put together a collection of cicada recipes called Cidada-licious. I'm bookmarking the cicada stir-fry.
Sharon Hahn Darlin CC BY
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June 8 is World Oceans Day, and June is National Seafood Month. And you bet your sweet crab legs there's no seafood to savor without healthy oceans. Climate change, invasive species, pollution, and habitat loss hit ocean life hard, and World Oceans Day celebrates our oceans by organizing events all over the globe to raise awareness of this amazing – and diverse – resource that covers most of the planet we live on. Buying sustainable seafood is one way you can support positive change, and here's a list of seven different ones you can feel great about eating.
USM cleanup/Alyssa Isakower
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June is National Grilling Month. Grilling has grown into a lifestyle, not just a way to cook meat in the summer. Moving the cooking outdoors switches up the scene so dinner is not just a meal, but an event. If you are a gearhead, check out our list of dream grills, starting with budget options and culminating with a grill attached to its own boat.
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June 10: National Iced Day. Sweetened or unsweetened? We all know how you answer defines where you live – the South or not the South – but whatever the case, summer is a great time to enjoy real iced tea (not that powdered swill or the bottled stuff that's essentially a non-carbonated soft drink).
In fact, the whole month is National Iced Tea Month. For a fun spin on this cooling favorite, make a batch of lemony sweet tea jelly.
Pen Waggener CC BY
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June 11-12: Shavuot. Celebrated seven weeks and one day after Passover, this Jewish holiday marks the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. In Israel, it lasts a day, while in other countries it lasts two days. It is customary to eat dairy foods on this holiday because of the comparison of the words of the Torah to the sweetness of milk and honey. Cheesecake and blintzes have become two traditional dishes to prepare. Another aspect of Shavuot is staying up all night reading and discussing the Torah, so lay into that dairy meal for energy!
Ofer Deshe CC BY
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June 13: Kitchen Klutzes of America Day. Look, everyone makes mistakes – even famous chefs. In fact, making mistakes is inextricably linked to improving as a cook. So, whether you are a beginner struggling to make the results of your Hello Fresh box vaguely resemble the recipe photo or a Certified Master Chef, know you are in good company.
Steven Lilley CC BY-SA
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June 18: International Picnic Day. The fellows in the photo seem to have packed mostly liquid refreshment. Perhaps they could have benefited from The Picnic: Recipes and Inspiration from Basket to Blanket, an illustration-laden cookbook that's incredibly twee and undeniably adorable. Written by the founders of the Portland Picnic Society (of course there's a Portland Picnic Society), it rallies readers to embrace the pleasures of dining out of doors in both high and low style.
F. J. Mortimer/Getty