Happy Halloween, everybody!
Now, long-time readers and short-time archives browsers will recall from a year or so back that I am a long-time Halloween fan, and am quite happy to celebrate it, even out of season as we do in New Zealand. Tonight the Simian household will see in the Spookiest Night of the Year with a brace of in lawses and young cousins. Jet Jr is a bit poorly today, so it might be a stripped down affair, but the moment has been prepared for: the decorations have been dragged out from the garage, Mrs Simian has made some white chocolate cupcakes with chocolate spider toppings, and I've been busy with a pumpkin...
This is (I think) the first pumpkin I've carved in Wellington, and it's the best one I've done yet! The local pumpkin of this season is the crown pumpkin, a fine and fleshy variety which is not really ideal for carving. The flesh is a beautiful orange, and very thick as well as dense - excellent for soups and roasting, but in need of some prep for baking and the like. For the necessary deal of hollowing out the fruit, I hit on an absolute gift of a suggestion online: an ice cream scoop! This weekend Jet Jr and I selected an ideal pumpkin from a local market, and yesterday I got to work, reducing some five centimetres of flesh to about half that amount. The face design is courtesy of Jet Jr, who picked out his favourite sets of eyes, mouth, teeth and nose from sketches I'd prepared, and the knife work - well, it had to be me, was duly carried out. Too risky and hard otherwise.
Elsewhere Halloween continues to insert itself into the local commercial calendar. All manner of tat can be bought for the day from your neighbourhood Warehouse or Two Dollar Shop, and the usual received wisdom is being reported and broadcast relating to the day's purported origins. Now, in my first Halloween posting I was still a wholesale subscriber to the belief that Halloween is a Celtic hangover and descendent of Samhain (this idea is still the majority view, appearing as recently on Radio NZ yesterday morning and presented by a professor of cultural stiudies from AUT) however over the past couple of years my opinion has changed, thanks to the reputable Jim Moon's research in his Hypnogoria podcast. We may never truly know whether Halloween is an Irish Celtic harvest festival marking the thin veil lying between the worlds of the living and the dead, sustained in the US from potato famine refugees and exported back to us... but Jim doesn't believe it, and his case for the negative is an exhaustive and compelling one. I'm now led to believe that Halloween isn't especially Celtic, not particularly Irish, definitely not an American invention, and pretty much nothing to get all worked up over.
I've a mind to see if I can grown some more suitable, red-orange pumpkins to carve next May for a seasonal Halloween (when they'll also be in season.) As for today's pumpkin,he's going to be lit up tonight for the evening, and has already made a rather nice dozen spicy muffins to give out.