Week­end Food

Irish Examiner - Weekend - - Food - Da­rina Allen www.cooking­is­fun.ie www.in­sta­gram.com/dari­na_allen www.in­sta­gram.com/bal­ly­maloe­cook­eryschool

WE’RE all set for Hal­loween, squash, pump­kins and gourds of ev­ery size, shape and colour are piled pre­car­i­ously on the cook­ery school ta­ble tops, win­dow ledges, in bas­kets and boxes. They look so beau­ti­ful.

It has be­come a bit of a tra­di­tion now for chil­dren from the lo­cal schools to come to the farm to har­vest the squash and pump­kin ev­ery Au­tumn. They have the best fun and are in­trigued by the names, Hub­bard, Turks Tur­ban, Lit­tle Gem, Del­i­cata, Hokkaido, Crown Prince, Kobocha, Co­coz­elle, Jack be Lit­tle, Red Kuri… Some are the size of a child’s fist, oth­ers so enor­mous that is takes two sturdy lads to carry them.

Ev­ery­one loves carv­ing the pump­kins into scary faces for Hal­loween, the fes­ti­val that ap­par­ently orig­i­nated in Ire­land over 3,000 years ago when the pa­gan fes­ti­val of Samhain marked the end of the Celtic year and the be­gin­ning of the new year, the nat­u­ral tran­si­tion from lighter Sum­mer to the darker Win­ter.

At this time of the year it was be­lieved that the di­vi­sion be­tween this world and the other world was at its most frag­ile, al­low­ing spir­its to pass though. So as in the Mex­i­can tra­di­tion of the ‘Day of the Dead’ the spir­its of the an­ces­tors were in­vited back home and evil spir­its were warded off. Bon­fires, food, cos­tumes and masks were all part of the fes­tiv­i­ties.

After the famine, the Ir­ish car­ried their Hal­loween tra­di­tions to Amer­ica where it is now one of the ma­jor hol­i­days of the year. Sim­i­larly, here in Ire­land, it is fast be­com­ing as big as Christ­mas. For sev­eral weeks now chil­dren have been whipped into a lather of ex­cite­ment by all the Hal­loween temp­ta­tions on TV and in the shops and the an­tic­i­pa­tion of dress­ing up as ghouls and witches to do the rounds of their neigh­bour­hood for the an­nual ‘trick or treat’.

You may be amused to hear that we were inad­ver­tently re­moved from the ‘must visit’ list a num­ber of years ago when word spread among the ‘trick or treaters’ that Bal­ly­maloe Cook­ery School was no good be­cause you only got fruit and nuts.

The fact that they were home-grown ap­ples and fresh hazel­nuts, cob­nuts and wal­nuts from the nut gar­den did not re­motely im­press the scary lit­tle dotes who were hop­ing for proper sugar laden treats. So I think we’ve been black-listed!

The spi­der web cup-cakes did ac­tu­ally im­press as did the ‘spooky puca’ meringues but they were scarcely worth the ef­fort of schlep­ping up the long av­enue for.

Here are a few more scary Hal­loween treats for you to have fun mak­ing with your chil­dren and their friends.

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