Friday, October 30, 2009

With Halloween coming tomorrow I thought it only fitting that I should talk about Halloween and food. When you think of Halloween does a particular food come to mind? Is there a Turkey for Thanksgiving equivalent for Halloween? Well according to the experts (whomever they are) there is no one particular food that is a representation of Halloween (though, in my humble opinion, candy corn could be close since I don't see that candy any other time of year, thank goodness). Speaking of candy, most of the USA will spend the day searching out their favorite candy dressed up in something the would invoke fear in the hearts of the sane any other day of the year. Can you imagine Michael Meyer ringing your doorbell on a warm day in July? You might get your gun but you definitely wouldn't open the door and hand him a mini bag of candy corn with a smile on your face.
The story goes that the tradition of trick-or-treating as we know it today finds its roots in the belief that during Samhain (the pagan and Wicca time to reconnect with ancestors and the dead), the Druins (equal to monks in the Christian religion) thought (or they would say, knew) that the dead would play tricks on mankind causing panic and destruction. So to appease them the people would give out food to other Druins as they visited their homes (perhaps to show hospitality and stay in good favor with the dead). Another, less pagan beginning, was the ninth-century European custom called souling. On November 2, All Souls Day, early Christians would walk from village to village begging for "soul cakes" (square pieces of bread made with currants) and the more cakes a beggar received, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the those who gave out the cakes.
* Fun fact: A tradition food eaten on Halloween is barnbrack, a kind of fruitcake that can be bought in stores or baked at home. A muslin-wrapped treat is baked inside the cake that, it is said, can foretell the eater's future. If a ring is found, it means that the person will wed soon and a piece of straw would mean that a prosperous year was on its way.
Most will be carving a pumpkin into a jack o'lantern this Halloween so I thought I would include a few facts about our favorite fruit.
* Pumpkins have been grown in North America of 5,000 years and are indigenous to the western hemisphere.
* A pumpkin is in fact a fruit, it is a type of squash and is a member of the gourd family which includes melons.
* Pumpkin seeds should be plated between the last week of May and the middle of June and take 90- 120 days to grow. They are picked in October when they take on that famous orange color.
* Pumpkin flowers are edible.
* In early colonial times, pumpkins were used as a ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling.
* The largest pumpkin ever grown weighed in at 1,140 pounds.
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