A 21st Birthday to Remember…

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It’s official. Fall is here, people. So pack up your bathing suits, bring out your box of boots and sweaters, and hunker down under a fleece blanket. Since you’re now hopefully in “fall-mode” after following those 3 simple instructions, I want you to think for a second: Do you have any fall traditions that you never fail to enjoy? Maybe a reunion of old friends for a pickup soccer game? Or maybe Black Friday shopping at 3am with your mom, even if you have to fly home for the occasion? Me too. I can think of one immediately. Salsa and football with my father.

Homemade salsa has been one of our fall household traditions ever since my dad realized that he and I shared a common interest. Unlike the occasional movie or mall outing that would last only a few short hours, this specific “interest” was one that we could bond over and relish for 17 straight weeks (maybe even more, if we were lucky). And instead of taking us to some peaceful river in a small fishing boat, or to some green driving range in our nicest khakis and polos, it took us straight to our green leather couch, in our cozy living room, wearing our Baltimore Ravens jerseys each and every Sunday (or Monday). And since it’s a disgrace to watch a 3 hour football game without a few little snacks to cleanse your palette, the homemade salsa was a quick addition to our Sunday ritual.  At first it started with one salsa, then another, then a third, and now it’s an in-depth geometry lesson when attempting to fit the array of salsa choices on the coffee table.

Even though I am no longer living at home, there is nothing more tempting than a coffee table filled with unlimited tortilla chips and half a dozen exotic salsas to convince me to hop in my car and make the trek home for a game. And for my 21st birthday, not even the obligatory hangover could cause me (and a handful of friends) to resist this temptation.

So there we were – 9 of us piled into 2 cars, battling the cruel effects from our midnight celebrations, headed home for the game in order to celebrate this momentous occasion with a feast only fit for a legal college student.

This is what we found upon our arrival…

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These were our “appetizers”

What a beauty.

What a beauty.

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This was our main course. (My father gives Chipotle a run for its money)

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This was our homemade dessert of pumpkin pie and cheesecake, courtesy of my mother.

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Since a 21st birthday isn’t complete without a few beverages, we had homemade Sangria.

Although I would love to post the recipes for all of these amazing salsas, I kind of like not knowing exactly what’s in these football staples. It makes the experience that much more mysterious and delicious. But since this post would not be complete without a recipe, below I have added the wonderful Sangria recipe.

Traditional Spanish Sangria

On the drive back to school later that day, I realized that I am dreading the day when a Ravens game at my house does not include these amazing dishes, but I know it’s bound to happen sooner or later. However, that’s the thing with traditions — the reason they are so special is because they do not happen often, saved only for noteworthy occasions. So when they do occur, you relish them (or devour them) for all they’ve got.

And if I’ve learned anything about traditions, it’s that the older you get, the more you appreciate them… and the more help you need buttoning your skinny jeans the next day.

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