Monday, October 28, 2013

Hallowe'en Food

I have always loved Halloween. I have not had the best time celebrating it in the last few years and let me explain.

Growing up in a rural area meant driving around to houses of people that you more or less knew. You would get dressed up in your finery and pop out of the car and go to a house. Most times, the houses were too far apart and you would have to get back into the car to be driven a little more to get to the next house.

I remember a few missteps, like the time we thought the light was on at a house and it turned out to be the glow of a television of an elderly couple. We stood there waiting as they rummaged through their cupboards and came up with a small handful of peanuts for my sister and I.

Eventually, I moved to a big city and Halloween became a big deal where you dressed up and became something different. Everyday is Halloween became a mantra as we went from bar to house party and back home. The food at the party was always cheesy and good enough for twenty somethings eating drunk.

Skip forward. Married with kids in a really big city. Never having gone trick or treating here, I have left the taking of the kids out to my wife while I stand at the door giving out candy. I'm tired of not being involved in this pageant and parade. This year, I am taking my inner freak and going out with the kids. We will leave treats at the door and hope there is no fiend feeding frenzy on our steps. We hope not to see blissed out tricksters gorged when we come back, but you never know.

Every year there is a pre-spooking party where we have a selection of food that is definitely a step up from the food I had in my twenties. I can't help but feel that Halloween as a food holiday gets short shrift. Most of the food expressions are about how gross you can make something look. While that puts most of the foodie mantra of eating with your eyes on its head (eyes on the head sounds like a meatloaf presentation waiting to happen), there is still no specific dish that exemplifies the holidays.

Where is the turducken? Where is the Christmas cake? Where is the Easter ham? I mean there is plenty of candy but that just seems like a default lowest common denominator. If you don't have anything else, at least there is the candy.  See what I mean?

Strangely, I don't have anything but the observation. I would guess that it would have to be a fall dish that doesn't look very good but tastes amazing. Some type of witches brew of a stew to take before heading out to trick or treat.

But there is another option that has always held a special place for me and that is the more traditional festivals that takes place at this time. Samhain and All Soul's Day (Day of the Dead) occur around this time and it is for reflection on those who have passed. It is also the harvest season passing into winter darkness. Food and drink are left out for the departed to partake on these days. Since it the days of slaughter, meat is plentiful, and nuts and apples abound. Maybe this is the day to set out a plate for a loved one that has passed? A favourite meal of a recently departed may be the way to get back to the reflection on death, dying and then going out and lampooning with mummies, vampires, and zombies.

Have a safe and happy holiday.

No comments:

Post a Comment