What better than a monster to scare a ghost especially when the devil is out? This week, it is all about scary stories on 196 flavors!
Welcome to the world of ghosts, monsters and the devil! Scared yet? It is Halloween!
Halloween’s origins come from a Celtic pagan festival, a common festival for all Celts who lived in Ireland, Britain and Gaul.
Halloween is celebrated on the eve of All Saints Day. Its name is a contraction of “All Hallows Eve” which is “the eve of All Saints ‘Day” in contemporary English and would mean “the vigil of All Saints’, All Saints Day is the feast of… dead people!
And who says death, says ghosts… Boo!
About 3000 years ago, the Celtic calendar did not end on December 31st like it does now, but on October 31st. And this last night of the year was the night of Samhain, the god of death.
In October, nights are getting longer and the legend says that not only the devil was taking advantage to go pick up all the souls of the dead people of the year but also that the ghosts of the dead were taking the opportunity to visit the living. So, to prevent the ghosts from coming back to haunt them, the Celts had some powerful rituals including dressing up in costumes of terrifying monsters to scare ghosts away and gathering to counter them but also to party the night of October 31st.
Between 1846 and 1848, a major famine hit Ireland. Many people left the country to the “promised land” of America. They settled in Canada and the United States, introducing Americans to their traditions.
At this time, children dressed up and threatened people they met on the street for gifts. They played dirty tricks to those who did not know or refused to pay their debts to the dead. Over the years, the custom americanized and by 1930, children would start going door to door asking for treats.
Obviously, the custom of a pumpkin carved into a lantern also comes from the Celts. The British and Irish carved beets, potatoes and turnips for Halloween lanterns. This custom has reached the United States, where the pumpkins came on the scene. It is said that an Irishman by the name of Jack could not go to heaven after his death, because he was too stingy. He could not go to hell either because he tricked the devil. He was sentenced to wander around the earth with his lantern that now bears his name: Jack O’Lantern. Initially, Jack’s lantern was a turnip, but the Americans decided that pumpkin lanterns were much better than turnip lanterns!
So that is how this rather dark story of dead really initiated this famous tradition.
Remember, a year ago, I told you everything about cucurbits and pumpkin soup on the occasion of Thanksgiving.
Whoever says pumpkin on Halloween says pumpkin pie, and that’s what I chose to prepare this week.
Our blog is Franco-American since Mike, our devil lives Los Angeles. That night is the devil’s… let’s please him and head to the United States!
Pumpkin was certainly not on the menu of the first Thanksgiving and Halloween celebrations in the form of pie. Pumpkin, one of the few fruits native to the Americas, had always been known and used by Native Americans before the arrival of pilgrims. They discovered it upon arriving in the New World and learned to appreciate it their way.
What can be considered as the ancestor of the pumpkin pie looked nothing like the one we know. The pumpkin flesh replaced the dough and was not among the ingredients of the filling. People would cut the upper part of squash; the seeds were removed and the pumpkin was filled with a mixture of milk, honey and spices before being baked, buried in hot ashes.
The first mentions of pumpkin pie were found in a French cooking book dating from 1651: Le cuisinier francois, whose author is famous seventeenth century chef from Dijon, Francois Pierre de La Varenne. It was not until 50 years after the first Thanksgiving feast that the first pumpkin recipes were featured in English cooking books, and only in 1796, in an American cuisine book, the first written and published in America called American cookery, by an American orphan. Its author, Amelia Simmons, developed recipes using products from the United States. Her pumpkin pie is very similar to the one which is eaten by millions of Americans today.
A little trick: do not throw away the pumpkin seeds! Rinse them and blanch them for 2 minutes in boiling water. Drain well without drying them then roast them in the oven for a few minutes. You will get delicious appetizing seeds! Or, for the more adventurous of you, go ahead and make kanda from Central Africa, Liberian chicken, Guatemalan tamales negros or Ivorian nyam ngond! Of course, 196 F takes you on those virtual trips!
Now what about my pumpkin pie?
The verdict was unanimous: we all loved this pie! It melts in your mouth! A really nice discovery for me. If you don’t know pumpkin pie, get to it!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature), diced
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg yolk
- ¼ cup water
- 1½ cup pumpkin flesh , diced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1½ oz. molasses
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- ⅓ cup sour cream (or creme fraiche)
- 2 oz. hazelnuts (or almonds), ground
- Take the butter out of the refrigerator 2 hours before starting the recipe. It should be soft but not melted.
- Mix dry ingredients: flour, salt, and spices.
- Add the softened butter and knead for 4 minutes.
- Stir water and egg yolk to bind the dough.
- Mix quickly and form a ball.
- Knead the dough with the palm of your hand for 3 minutes on a floured surface.
- Transfer the dough to a pie dish.
- Prick the dough with a fork and refrigerate.
- Heat the butter and fry the pumpkin, stirring occasionally until cooked. If necessary, add a little water.
- In a mixer bowl, beat the pumpkin puree and eggs together.
- Add sugar, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, and salt and mix well.
- Stir in evaporated milk and sour cream to the pumpkin preparation in three stages. Mix well after each stage.
- Preheat oven to 430 F.
- Pour the pumpkin batter onto the dough.
- Bake 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 350 F and continue baking for about 50 minutes (until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean).
- Allow pie to cool before serving.