It’s Hallowe’en. Catherine Fellows demonstrates what can be done with a large pumpkin and a carving knife.
Ifyou are about to binge you are perpetuating a venerable tradition. Though ‘Hallowe‘en‘ tends to conjure up images ofwitches and goblins and nasty little children threatening to vaseline car windscreens. there is much to suggest that for our various ancestors it all amounted to an excuse for an enormous feast.
Halloween marked the end ofthe year for the Druids and the Celts. Admittedly the spirit world was thought to be at its most active. but more importantly. this was the moment everyone had been waiting for: time to break into the stores that had been amassed over the summer for winter consumption. 1 would have liked to offer recipes fora do-it-yourselfC.‘eltic extravaganza. but it seems to have been very much a matter ofgrab a large animal. roast it whole. and then fight for the best cuts. Survival of the bullies in action - presumably ifyou landed the tail too many times. your chances of proving yourselfman ofthe feast became increasingly remote. There is evidence that there would also have been bread on the Celts‘ tables — they grew mostly wheat and barley. As for vegetables. I have a feeling warriors would have got stroppy if presented with lettuce.
the freaks "
Hallowe‘en also coincides with the
feast day of the Roman goddess of fruit. Pomona. Copious amounts of grapes and wine would have been consumed and probably deposited in the vomitorium in due course.
It appears that in more recent times those who cared about the future of decent society felt it a positive duty to hold a party. According to a worthy Mary E. llazeltine. writing in 1944. latent and seditious spirits unleashed on Halloween night threatened to undermine US society. and had been responsible for far more than they are usually given credit for: ‘Probably because ofits long history of merriment and its definite traditions. there is no season so marked by parties. both for grown ups and youth. as Halloween. The 31 references below. under ‘Parties. games and entertainments'. indicate this. In early years in America the fun took the form ofharmless though often daring pranks. but these have been superseded by a growing spirit of rowdyism increasing by World War I and in need ofcontrol by World War ll. The chief-of-police in many communities annually issues warnings against vandalism which may lead to punishment for sabotage. For a number ofyears. to assist in meeting and overcoming this growing abuse ofa festival intended for good fun (now often turned into acts of lawlessness). the schools generally throughout the country have arranged school parades in the early evening. the pupils in costume. marching by grades. This is followed
by a frolic in the school gymnasium with prizes for the best costumes. a briefprogramme ofskits and stunts. and refreshments. Parties are also planned by churches. the YMCA and other organisations. to help keep youth occupied with the normal fun ofthe evening.
llallowe'en may be made an occasion ofgood-natured revelry and community value by incorporating various of its traditional features in a festival in which all have a share. as described in the references listed below. The occasion also offers a welcome opportunity to a host or hostess for entertaining in their own home. Books are listed that provide for this also. giving many and explicit directions for all kindsofgames . . .‘
How could any hostess not be bursting with enthusiasm at the idea ofdoing her bit to smother rebellion in domestic bliss. not to mention to activate her state of the art bakerlite food processor? Perhaps it is remiss of me to omit instructions for good clean fun. but I am not prepared to get involved in that kind of spoon-feeding. What I have got is some better reasons to buy pumpkin than playing at Andy Goldsworthy with a kitchen knife. or trying to frighten away the ghouls. Pumpkin Soup A very delicious creamy soup. thanks to the coconut. two chopped onions two crushed garlic cloves a medium-sized pumpkin. peeled.
deseeded and roughly chopped
a large carrot. chopped
two pints vegetable or chicken stock creamed coconut (about 202) dissolved in a little hot water
salt and black pepper
tarragon or coriander. preferably fresh.
Sweat the onion and garlic in a nob of butter. adding the carrot and pumpkin after a few minutes. Add herbs. reserving a handful ifthey are fresh. Add stock. season and cover. Simmer until the pumpkin is soft (about 30 minutes). Liquidize the soup in a blender. return to the pan. add the coconut and reheat gently. When ready to serve. throw in the remaining fresh herbs.
a 2-3lb pumpkin. or halfa larger one 2 sticks of celery. chopped
1 large onion, chopped
207. hazel nuts. ground
loz pine kernels. ground
3 tblsps olive oil
302 wholemeal breadcrumbs
l tblsp mixed chopped thyme and savory
l tblsp tomato puree
1/4 pint stock
Preheat oven — Gas mark 4, 350. 180. Cut the pumpkin in half. scrape away pith but reserve the seeds. Fry these gently in olive oil until they are golden. Set aside. In the same oil, fry the onion and celery until soft. Off the heat stir in the ground nuts, breadcrumbs. pumpkin seeds, herbs. tomato puree and finally the stock. Pile the mixture into the pumpkin halves and place on an oiled baking sheet. Cook for around 11/: hours. Serve cut into slices rather like a melon.
loz icing sugar
a few drops of vanilla essence Filling:
1 lb pumpkin flesh. roughly chopped 1'/: pints ofmilk
a cinnamon stick
307. soft brown sugar
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
For the pastry. rub the butter into the combined ﬂour and sugar. until it is the consistency ofbreadcrumbs. Add the vanilla essence. Press this mixture around the sides and base of an 8-9 inch ﬂan dish; chill for an hour. Bake at Gas Mark 4. 350.180. for about 20 minutes. or until the pastry is golden brown. Cool.
Simmer the pumpkin in the milk
with the cinnamon stick for 40 minutes. Discard the cinnamon. drain the pumpkin ﬂesh and liquidize it with the sugar, nutmeg. ground cinnamon and butter. Add the eggs one at a time; blend again. Pour this mixture into the pastry case and bake at the same temperature as before for about 20 minutes, or until the filling is firm. Serve hot.
85 The List 26 October — 8 November 1990