May 252015


Towel Day is celebrated every year on 25 May as a tribute to the author Douglas Adams by his fans. On this day, fans carry a towel with them, as described in Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, to demonstrate their appreciation for the books and the author. The commemoration was first held two weeks after Adams’ death on 11 May 2001.


I stand in awe of Adams’ genius. Clearly millions of others do too. Words escape me when I contemplate what he achieved – stellar (!) prose, Byzantine plot twists, amazing inventions, extraordinarily dry humor, mind boggling intelligence, crazy imagination . . . need I go on? I, like all fans, just wish he had lived longer and written more.

The whole thing about towels begins here:

A towel . . . is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost.” What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)

(The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)


Towels then appear sporadically throughout the “trilogy”

Ford was hanging from the towel, gripping its seams.

Other hitchhikers had seen to modify their towels in exotic ways, weaving all kinds of esoteric tools and utilities and even computer equipment into the fabric. Ford was a purist. He liked to keep things simple. He carried a regular towel from a regular domestic soft furnishings shop. It even had a kind of blue and pink floral pattern on it, despite his attempts to bleach and stone wash it. It had a couple of pieces of wire threaded into it, a bit of flexible writing stick, and also some nutrients soaked into a corner of it so he could suck it in an emergency, but otherwise it was a simple towel you could dry your face on.

The only actual modification he had been persuaded by a friend to make was to reinforce the seams.

Ford hung on to his towel like a maniac.

(Mostly Harmless)

And . . .

Here, suck this,’ said Roosta, offering Zaphod his towel.
Zaphod stared at him as if he expected a cuckoo to leap out of his forehead on a small spring.
‘It’s soaked in nutrients,’ explained Roosta.
‘What are you, a messy eater or something?’ said Zaphod.
‘The yellow stripes are high in protein, the green ones have vitamin B and C complexes, the little pink flowers contain wheatgerm extract.’
Zaphod took it and looked at it in amazement.
‘What are the brown stains?’ he asked.
‘Bar-B-Q sauce,’ said Roosta. ‘For when I get sick of wheatgerm.’
Zaphod sniffed it doubtfully. Even more doubtfully, he sucked a corner. He spat it out again.
‘Ugh,’ he stated.
‘Yes,’ said Roosta, ‘when I’ve had to suck that end I usually have to suck the other end a bit too.’
‘Why,’ asked Zaphod suspiciously, ‘what’s in that?’
‘Anti-depressants,’ said Roosta.
‘I’ve gone right off this towel, you know,’ said Zaphod, handing it back.

(The Restaurant at the End of the Universe)


Just about everything you might want to know about Towel Day can be found here, most especially a list of events around the world. I was amazed to discover what goes on in Argentina (probably ex-pats), because 25 de Mayo is a major national holiday there celebrating the May Revolution. Amusingly Towel Day features locro which is the national dish for this day. I’ve written about locro here: Here’s the Argentine Towel Day facebook page:


Since Roosta’s towel contains wheat germ here’s one of my favorite recipes that includes it. I used to make my own granola, which was a great hit with my friends. I used to give away bucketloads. Use all organic ingredients, and essentially chuck in whatever you want by the half cupful: flax seed, pine nuts, chopped nuts of all sorts, dried fruits (mangoes are great) . . . whatever you can find. You just need to remember to keep the balance between oats and other ingredients, so as you include more ingredients add more oats. I eat mine moistened with freshly squeezed orange juice, or sometimes heavy cream (no need to be TOO healthy!), but you can use yogurt, milk or whatever.

© Tío Juan’s Granola


3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
¾ cup shredded sweet coconut
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup each of whatever else you want.
1 cup raisins, sultanas, currants mixed


Heat the oven to 300°F

Put all the dry ingredients, except the fruits, in a bowl and mix them thoroughly.

Whisk together the maple syrup and oil and add the mix to the dry ingredients. Be sure that the wet and dry are thoroughly blended.  This takes time.

Spread the granola thinly and evenly on baking sheets. For this size recipe I use two. Put in the oven and keep an eagle eye on it. Stir frequently; it is very easy to burn the mix at the edges.

When the granola is golden brown (about 25 minutes), take it out and let it cool. Dump back in the bowl and mix in the fruits.

Store in an airtight container.