“Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.”—Christopher Columbus

“Land ho!” After 10 weeks at sea, two words shouted by Italian sailor Rodrigo de Triana were welcome news to the ears of his shipmates and Capt. Christopher Columbus aboard the Pinta. One imagines that after a rousing cheer, the crew shouted back, “What’s for lunch?” After all, 10 weeks at sea on a diet of salt cured meat and fish (think big anchovies), hardtack (hard unleavened bread) and dried beans would have been grim.

Monday is Columbus Day, an unappetizing holiday that credits Christopher Columbus for proving the world is round when he discovered the “New World” Oct. 12, 1492. Most major holidays have a culinary connection. Easter has chocolate bunnies. July 4th is known for grilled burgers and hot dogs. Candy corn is one of many treats connected with Halloween. Say “turkey,” and Thanksgiving comes to mind. Of course, candy canes go with Christmas. Unfortunately, the Italian explorer’s triumph doesn’t inspire much in the way of holiday food.

Columbus Day’s status as a second tier holiday—you won’t get holiday pay unless you work at a bank or the post office—can be blamed on the fact that Columbus wasn’t the first to discover the continent.

“America had often been discovered before Columbus, but it had always been hushed up,” Irish playwright Oscar Wilde said.

For example, the continents of North and South America were named for Italian cartographer Amerigo Vespucci; in 1959 New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller proclaimed March 2 Amerigo Vespucci Day. Some credit Scandinavian explorer Leif Erikson with the discovery of North America; he established colonies in Greenland and Newfoundland four centuries before Columbus landed on an already inhabited Bahamian island.

And according to historian Vine Deloria, Jr., “when asked by an anthropologist what the Indians called America before the white man came, an Indian said simply, ‘Ours.’”

Columbus Day was decreed a federal holiday by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Congress in 1937. However, few people celebrate it in a meaningful culinary way. Native   fare the Pinta’s crew consumed once they landed on a small Bahamian island most likely included tomatoes, corn and sweet potatoes spiced with chili pepper, allspice and cayenne as well as vanilla and cocoa. However, I like to think a dish more representative of Columbus and his journey around the world should be Italian, round and “to-go.” Sounds like pizza to me. Make mine a deluxe; hold the anchovies. Happy Columbus Day!