Thursday, November 01, 2007

Smashing Pumpkin


Art by Mike Wade

There was a delectably dressed toddler in Ilford Town Centre late this afternoon dressed as a pumpkin. He was unselfconsciously parading his wee self about the mall to the delight of all assembled under the pretty mauve fairy lights festooning the pedestrianised high street. I could indulge myself in a moan about why we in Britain waited until gratuitous energy consumption by western nations was highlighted as a major contributor to climate change before discovering that lights in trees during the darkest days of winter make everyone feel better. You cannot imagine the effort of my restraint.

It’s Halloween and I’ll not be mean. Easy for me to say because I’m locked away in a second storey flat with a door entry system and so long as the five other residents in Greater House of Pants aren’t daft enough to buzz trick-or-treaters in, my supply of Marks and Spencer Humbugs that I received as a going away present from my next to last job should remain undisturbed.

I’d love to have taken a photo of the little boy in the pumpkin costume for Elegantly Dressed Wednesday. It honestly didn’t occur to me until I was on the second leg of my homeward journey but, even if I had whipped out the Kodak as a reflex gesture then there would have been complications. I’d have needed to explain to the mother what a ‘blog’ is and how her child would come to no harm as a consequence of appearing on a blog with a relatively small readership, especially since his sweet little made-up face would be indistinguishable from any other given pumpkin on the night.

But then I faced the agonising dilemma of how to present elegance on Halloween Wednesday. Unbelievably, because it’s so unlike me in my present chaotic state of mind to remember anything beyond what I have to do on a daily basis to put organic rye bread on the table, I remembered that I had the wonderful painting of a Halloween pumpkin by my friend Mike Wade stored away in my vast collection of incredible artworks. You are invited to enjoy at leisure.

It got me thinking. There’s a surprise. In my native Australia, we eat pumpkins. They are considered a food rather than a decorative item. Pumpkin soup for example was a staple of dinner parties in my fevered and impoverished student years. It was often served in the shell of the pumpkin as few student houses prioritised a soup tureen when stocking the common kitchen. It was more likely you’d spend your few spare coppers on labels advising fellow housemates,

This is my food so fuck off.

I could have bought a pumpkin and fashioned it into pumpkin scones. The first lady of fascism when I was a student at the University of Queensland, (a very fine tertiary establishment in a state then run by a transplanted Boer with a mandate numbering a dozen or so crony farmers), ‘Lady’ Flo Bjelke-Petersen, is probably most famous for her creation of this memorable recipe. I always preferred traditional scones as it happens. They taste floury in a way nothing else worth mentioning does. Scones don’t taste right without strawberry jam in my view and the colour/taste clash would make even Ugly Betty wince.

If I’d hoed that particular patch, I might have forked out five quid on a premium orange pumpkin as the poor spring and summer in Britain has forced pumpkin farmers to spend the last three weeks or so hiring out every spare tanning salon in the land in order to mature their pumpkins to the optimum hue for carving and internally lighting. Who knows if it would have been edible.

Halloween is one of those important festivals where everything has to be just so, don’t you know. So integral is Halloween to our cultural calendar that almost everyone struggles to recall why we have it in the first place. If you’re interested, here it is in a Wikishell.

I was fortunate enough to score some delicious sweet potato in my Abel & Cole box yesterday so I roasted that in honour of All Hallows Eve. I didn’t gouge it out and fill it with candles. I would have needed the collaboration of one Willard Wigan for that. It was a modest sweet potato that I carved into griddleable slices and popped on the Breville. It was orange though so a virtual trick or treaties to all you sweeties.




15 comments:

Andrew said...

Bad memories from Queensland Pants. Wonder if Flo is still alive. If it's the good who die young, she ought not be around.

R.H. said...

A second storey flat? Five other residents?
Pooh. Not for me. So how much did you get for the place?

Say what you like about the Bjelke-Petersons, they put comedy into Australian politics, so did the Whitlam government. There's been nothing since.

That's so pants said...

Hi Andrew

Flo is still with us but, thankfully no longer doing irreparable damage to democracy by merely participating in it.

Hi RH

Take your point about the comedy. We can all laugh about it now but it wasn't all that funny at the time.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

Whitlam: 1972-75, the last years of vaudeville.

So hey, are you listening, how much did you get for your flat?

That's so pants said...

RH

I have no intention of telling you that.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

Bah!

That's so pants said...

To think I get excited when I see 'a comment is waiting to be moderated'

Sorry RH but you've spoiled my day.

xxx (with reluctance)

Pants

Dame Honoria Glossop said...

That little pumpkin boy sounds so cute!

I've had pumpkin pie, but never pumpkin soup, I like the idea of serving it in a hollowed out pumpkin.

That's so pants said...

Your Dameship

I'm sure Castle Glossop would be enriched by a Royal Doulton pumpkin soup tureen. Let me know when Harrods deliver and I will forward a suitable recipe.

Your servant

Pants

Janejill said...

What I want to know is ..who is this r.h.? I know s/he is not your alter ego but is s/he setting up business as a shadow? Can't you persuade her/im to keep to the point? the only Australian house-obsessive I've come across. I had loved the idea of pumpkin pie,,,until I tasted it. Like it only in curry, but then I like everything in curry. My funny sight was a delivery man in the High Street trundling along in a very determined manner , wearing a ghoul/the scream mask.

Sad you are going - now isn't that stupid xx

That's so pants said...

Hi Jane Jill

RH? No idea. Can't believe you didn't like pumpkin pie.

xxx

Pants

trousers said...

Shooting straight off at a tangent, but I can never pass a reference to Ilford without thinking of the photograph paper and equipment.

I too am lucky (as far as I'm concerned) to escape the notice of trick-or-treaters purely because the door to my place is round the back, and no-one (which often includes the postman) thinks of bothering to come round here.

Which is bliss, most of the time.

That's so pants said...

Hi Trews

All turned out to be a bit of a non event in the end, didn't it?

Now we've the damp squib that is Guy Fawkes night to look forward to. Not much fun since local authorities discontinued their wonderful firework displays for 'health and safety' reasons.

xxx

Pants

Reading the Signs said...

Hi Pants,

Bah, humbug! You don't need electric lights to make a good pumpkin face, you just need one small night light to put inside it once you've scooped out the mush, which isn't good for anything (though it might do for Lady B-P's scones which look pretty horrible anyway). The pumpkins sold for carving are useless for soup or pies, you need the small, dark orange ones for that.

I wanted to make a Munch's Scream face this year but am not artistic in that way.

Bah!

xxx

That's so pants said...

Hi Signs

I think a Munch Scream face would be fun + easy too - except for the hands, obviously.

xxx

Pants